NYC DEP Three Day Notice For A Water Line Leak, How Accurate Is DEP?

DEP Notices, Opinion & Expertise
February 24, 2012

by David Balkan

city water main break causes three day notice

A NYC DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) Three Day Notice is generally a notice to repair a defective (leaking) main water line for a house service. Depending on the severity of the leak the department may opt at their discretion to extend the period of the notice or take quicker action if an emergency condition is being created by the water main leak – such as a roadway washout. Download an example DEP Three Day Notice PDF.

city water main break causes three day notice
City Water Main Break Causes Three Day Notice

How is the source of a leak determined?

The NYC DEP generally uses listening devices to determine the source of a water line leak. Typically a main water line for a house service will not have a sound on it unless water is running or leaking from it. In other words, with the main control valve turned off and no water running in the house there should be no sound heard on the line. On the other hand if the NYC water main in the roadway is broken there may be sounds on multiple water service lines for different houses – The sound from a broken city main can travel through multiple lines.

In some cases the DEP may excavate to determine the source of a water line leak. If a water service line is leaking and creating a dangerous condition the DEP may close the tap connection to stop the leak. In these few cases there is a $1,000.00 charge to the property owner – this charge does not include any required water main repair work. Once a tap connection is closed the owner of the premises will then be issues a ‘Ten Day Notice’.

How accurate is the DEP?

The trained field forces of the NYC DEP are remarkably accurate when assessing the source of a water line leak. The last audit on record has the NYC DEP with an accuracy rate of 98% – See the Three Day Notice audit. Needless to say anyone with an accuracy rate of 98% is doing a great job.

The DEP field forces are highly trained and have access to all sorts of water leak detection equipment. In addition, when the situations calls for it, the DEP can perform tests on water to also help determine the source of a leak. By performing a water test the DEP can determine whether it is from the drinking water supply, waste water, or ground water. This type of information is vitally important in determining the proper correct course of corrective action.

What to do if the notice was given to you in error

If at the request of the NYC DEP you hired a water main contractor and the leak is not from your main water line you have to act promptly. Because you hired the water main contractor in response to the Three Day Notice you are obligated to pay the contractor for their expenses in determining the source of the water line leak. The proper course of action to take is as follows:

  • Ask a representative from the NYC DEP to come to the site and confirm the notice was issued in error.
  • Reach an amicable agreement with the contractor for the expenses incurred.
  • File claim forms with the Comptrollers Office. These forms are available on this sites Sewer And Water Main Resources Page under ‘Additional Resources’.
  • Make sure the claim is resolved within an appropriate time – The claims forms can now be filed on-line, but you must stay on top of things.

If you receive a notice from the DEP for a water line leak always remember that they are not infallible – but they are correct the vast majority of the time. Most NYC water main contractors give free and no obligation site visits and estimates so do not hesitate to get a water main contractor to the site right away. Three days is ample time to address a water line leak. In some cases a new tap connection is required and there may be a delay in the DEP being able to install the tap – But in those cases the DEP typically gives extra time.

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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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