MISSOULA – Missoula officials say a new ordinance should clear up some confusion about the ownership of Missoula Water lines, and make it easier for repairs to be accomplished when there’s a problem.
The new rules make a long-standing policy clear, stating that service lines from the curb to a house or business are the responsibility of the property owner.
But the changes approved by the city council extend the time for notification of a problem from 10 days to 21 days, giving more time for repairs to be arranged.
“Basically it gives them that extra time to contact us. Because there are certain times of the year that contractors are busy. But as long as they contact us we know they’re working on it,” said Missoula Deputy Public Works Director Dennis Bowman.
“That gives us the ability to utilize any of our resources with contractors and keep in communication with the customer to help them out to get their service line fixed,” Bowman added.
Missoula Water will continue its aggressive program of replacing water mains that had been suffering from years of neglect under private ownership.
That work is aimed at fixing leaks to prevent water loss, and making the utility more reliable.
But Bowman says even with all the equipment available, there were questions about how the city could make emergency repairs, and that’s cleared up with the new ordinance.
“We didn’t have the authority really to shut it off. So we wanted to have that spelled out. Because we’ve had some incidences in the past where service lines have leaked, and it’s on the edge of the road and it’s all iced up,” Bowman told MTN News.
“And it’s a big safety hazard. But the customers were unable to do anything. So this really clears everything up for the customer and the city to help out,” he added.
Additionally, the new ordinance sets up a loan program to help property owners pay for repairs where they don’t qualify for other public assistance, and then pay back the city over time through their regular bills.