HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The city of Hiawassee is considering a water leak protection contract with the insurance provider, ServLine, a partnership program with the Georgia Rural Water Association. The insurance provider would reimburse the city for a consumer’s single water leak per billing cycle each year, a write-off that Hiawassee has absorbed in the past. ServLine Representative Jenna Hazelet proposed a policy to council and citizens at the March work session.
“The reality is that every single person who is serviced water is at risk for a water leak,” Hazelet began. “I think you all have seen a pretty harsh winter here this season. A lot of communities have, especially when you start to reach the mountain areas. You start seeing a lot of frozen pipes when the winter gets harsh, and that can cause a lot of problems with pipes, with the infrastructure, both on the utility’s side, as well as the customer’s side. We have seen leaks that can reach up into the thousands of dollars.”
Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales added that water leaks are a common occurrence, quoting a total of over a million gallons lost, while using a resident’s recent water consumption as an example. What was typically an average of 3,000 gallons of water usage per month jumped to a staggering excess of 49,000 gallons in a single billing cycle due to leakage.
The residential cost for water leak protection is $1.80 per month. If selected, pipe protection is an additional $4.80 per month.
The policy would cover mishaps that occur from the water meter to the foundation of the structure. Coverage does not include interior piping nor subsequent water damage that may occur.
In order to file a claim, customers would call ServLine who would compensate the city, resulting in an adjustment of the consumer’s bill.
If accepted, the city may include the protection plan as a line item on water bills, allowing residents to cancel coverage if they so choose. The city of Hiawassee has an alternative option to write the policy into the base rate, leading to mandatory enrollment in the program.
“It’s not for everyone, and if you decide at the end of the day that you want to find a different solution for customer water leaks and the bills that result from it, that’s totally okay,” Hazelet told the council.
Mayor Ordiales also noted that water rates have not increased since 2013, although an ordinance has been in place since 2015, to raise fees at an annual rate of 3 percent. Ordiales displayed a website to citizens, comparing Hiawassee’s low water financial recovery to other cities, showing Hiawassee as “almost in the red.”
Hiawassee City Council meets for work sessions on the last Monday of each month, with regular sessions occurring on the first Tuesday of the month.
Meetings are held at 6 p.m. at Hiawassee City Hall.