New York City Water Main Leak Who Is Responsible?

Opinion & Expertise
September 18, 2015

by David Balkan

New York City Water Main Leak Who Is Responsible?

Every year, thousands of NYC homeowners experience a water main leak, but who is responsible? Many make the assumption that the city handles pipe leaks that are on the outside of the house. Unfortunately, they quickly find out this assumption is dead wrong. In New York City, a homeowner is always responsible for a broken pipe that runs from the inside of the house, clear to the connection at the city main. This even includes the actual connection to the city water main. This means in most cases leaks on the sidewalk, and in the roadway, are the responsibility of a homeowner. Only in a small percent of cases is the leak from the city water main itself. In these relatively rare cases, the NYC DEP will perform the repairs.

Water Main Leak

Water main leak – who is responsible when someone hits your line?

If a homeowner can prove that someone else, such as a utility company caused damage to the pipe, they will have recourse. But that would typically be in the form of filing claim after they have paid for a private contractor to perform the repairs. And proving this claim is often difficult as sufficient documentation is required. It is expected that the homeowner provide written documentation, pictures, and possibly even video to prove that the damage was indeed caused by another entity. In many cases it is advisable to ask that a representative from the alleged offender be present when the water main leak is repaired.It may seem like going a bit far, but if you suspect possible damage ,taking photos of active work outside your property is a good idea. If damage is done, such as results in a future water line leak, these same photos will help serve as proof of the possible cause. Make sure to use the date and time stamp feature on your camera as an added means of verification.

In the event of a water leak in the roadway or on the sidewalk, the DEP will often determine the source of the leak by performing a leak test. This is usually done by listening to the line with a listening device. In some cases the DEP may excavate to determine the source of the water leak. However, the DEP will not repair a leak on a water service line under any circumstances. Once examined, the DEP usually issues either a Three Day Notice, or a Ten Day Notice to the homeowner they believe is responsible. Neither DEP notice involves a fine or penalty if the condition is attended to within the specified time frame, both a simply notifications. Homeowners are often stunned to find out they are responsible for not only the charges to repair the broken pipe, but also the damage the water main leak did to the roadway. This is all the more reason to be pro-active, and investigate promptly.

If you begin experiencing low volume or water pressure in your home, it may be a sign of a water main leak, or possibly a broken tap connection. In either situation, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for repairs in NYC, and most other jurisdictions. The tap is the connection of your pipe to the city main. It is the final step in the chain of plumbing lines that belongs to the homeowner. These type of symptoms are not self-correcting, you should take immediate action.

If your home is showing signs of a water leak, contact Balkan Sewer And Water Main today. Early detection is crucial in avoiding inconvenient and costly action from the city.  Now you know during a water main leak who is responsible, and who to call for a free and no-obligation site visit.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

Dave Balkan

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