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Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

El Dorado Water Utility urges you to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

Every winter season, hundreds of our customers report damage to their pipes from freezing conditions. Low temperatures can cause your water pipes to freeze, and in some cases burst. The El Dorado Water Utility offers the following tips that can help you safeguard your home before, during and after a pipe freezes.

Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

  • Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
  • Identify the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. (Learning the location of these valves may come in handy during an emergency.)
  • Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. This can prevent freezing, especially for interior pipes that run along outside walls.
  • Close all windows near water pipes; cover or close open-air vents. Freezing temperatures combined with wind drafts can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
  • Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
  • Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
  • If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.

Monitor Freezing Pipe Conditions

  • Allow a faucet to drip slightly (lukewarm water) in order to minimize freezing.
  • The first sign of freezing is reduced water flow from a faucet.
  • Check your faucets for water flow and pressure before you go to sleep and again when you wake up.
  • Check pipes around your water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces.
  • These tend to be vulnerable to freezing conditions.
  • Identify cold air drafts coming in from a flue or chimney chase and caulk gaps that are near pipes. 

If a Pipe Freezes

  • If a faucet or pipe inside your house freezes, you can thaw it using a good hair dryer. (For safety purposes, avoid operating a hair dryer around standing water.)
  • To thaw a frozen pipe, heat water on the stove, soak towels in the hot water and wrap them around cold sections of the pipes.
  • When thawing a pipe, start thawing it nearest to the faucet. Make sure the faucet is turned on so that melted water can drip out. 

If a Pipe Bursts

  • Shut off water at the main valve.
  • If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
  • Call a plumber. Keep an emergency number nearby for quick access.

These are examples of safety precautions you can consider to help prepare yourself, others and your personal property for winter freeze. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what's appropriate.

Delayed Meter Reading Affects Bills For Some Customers

Beginning in mid-April the El Dorado Water Utilities meter readers fell behind when two of the three readers were unable to work and excessive rain slowed down readings since the meter boxes fill with water and have to be pumped out.  The Utility added additional staff and it is expected that the billing will be back on schedule by the end of June if not sooner.

The Utility billing software automatically adds a prorated amount to each bill that is over 36 days of billing.  Many customers had a bill over 36 days in May and the Utility responded by applying a credit for the prorated amount. There will be prorated amounts that will need to be credited a second time since this problem has extended into a second month.

All customer bills that had prorated amounts added to their bill will be credited. 

El Dorado Water Utility has also taken these steps to assist customers: late penalties have been waived, customers have been allowed 2-5 more days to pay their bills and any customers that were charged $25 disconnect fees have been credited. 

Additionally, the Utility software manufacture did not process an annual sewer adjustment properly on April 1 of this year.  This resulted in overcharges on customer sewer bills.  We are working with our software supplier to identify the amounts involved and we will credit these amounts.

Any credits EWU applies to a customer bill appears on the “Previous Balance” line on the bill.

We apologize for the inconvenience these billing errors have caused.

Anyone that has any questions about their bill is encouraged to call El Dorado Water at 862-6451.

Meter Replacement Project to Begin in June, 2015

Your El Dorado Water Utilities will start a meter replacement project in June, 2015.  Many of our residential meters and all of the commercial meters will be replaced with an advanced, state of the art cellular meter.  This change will positively impact both the environment and El Dorado Water Utilities ability to accurately and efficiently serve your water needs.

Residential customers will be mailed a postcard that will provide a date for the upcoming installation.  Commercial customers will be contacted by phone and appointments made for installation.

Utility Metering Solutions (UMS) is performing this work for the El Dorado Water Utilities.  As meters are replaced at residences, the UMS personnel will come to the door and notify the customer that the meter work is going to take place.   Typically, water service disruption will only last about 30 minutes.

EWU is spending over 2 Million dollars on this project and we ask for your patience as we undertake this huge effort.  

Due to Weather, EWU to open February 24 at Noon with only Essential Personnel

Due to Inclement Weather, the El Dorado Water Utilitites will open with only ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL at NOON on Tuesday, February 24.

$491,000 In Residential Deposits Credited To Our Customers

The El Dorado Water Utilities recently credited $491,000 in residential deposits back to our customers.

First let me explain that, in early 2014, the Utility stopped charging a $100 Deposit and a $15 Service Fee (total $115) for new residential service accounts.   EWU now charges a $75 non-refundable Connection Fee for residential customers.  This change requires $40 less cash up front to open an account.

Additionally, the Utility has made it easier to transfer service within our service area by collecting just $25 for changing service addresses.

Prior to converting to Connection Fees, the El Dorado Water Utilities had always required a deposit.  You might be interested in knowing the oldest deposit we had on record was from 1922.

By state law, the deposits still belong to our customers and the Utility could not invest these deposit funds or spend them.  We were required to maintain careful records of how much each customer had paid.  If a customer ended service, the deposit money, less the last month’s billing, was returned to the customer.  A considerable amount of time and resources were spent attempting to find many of these customers in order to return the deposits to them.  If we were unsuccessful, we were required by law to return these un-claimed deposits to the State of Arkansas.

In addition, the Utility had a policy of increasing the deposit by $100 each time a customer was turned-off for non-payment.  Over time, after repeated re-connections, many customers were required to pay very large deposits.

As you can now understand, the process of charging for residential deposits was time consuming, costly and counter-productive to our customers and the Utility. 

EWU began the process of crediting our customers for the amount of their residential deposits in September and the project was finished in late October 2014.  A total of $491,000 has been credited back to our customers.  Many customers had deposits as small as $5 for service that was established back in the 1950’s and earlier; while other customers have received a credit of hundreds of dollars on their account.

These modifications are part of a number of positive changes the Utility has taken in the Customer Service Department within the last several months under the direction of new Customer Service Manager, Becky Taylor.

Changes include new payment hours and payment options.  Monday through Friday our lobby is now open for payments until 4:30 PM and our Drive-Thru is open until 5:00 PM for your convenience.

Starting November 10, you will also be able to pay your bill by credit or debit card.  Credit and debit card payments will include a convenience fee of $2.50 or 3% of the bill amount, whichever is highest, which is our cost of processing the card payments.

These changes will make our Utility more user-friendly.  We are thankful for all of you - our customers, and whether you received a $5 or $400 deposit credit, we hope you like the deposit credit on your bill, the extended payment times and credit card payment option.

MARK SMITH

General Manager

El Dorado Water Utilities

Leaky Toilets Cost You Money!

Leaky toilets are the number one source of water leaks in most homes.  When working properly, the water in a toilet should only escape from the tank when the toilet is flushed.  But a toilet in need of service can leak thousands of gallons of water a month into the bowl and down the drain- costing you a lot of money on your water bill.  El Dorado Water Utility has a simple way for you to check your toilets for leaks.  We are offering free of charge, dye tablets that will help you determine if your toilet is leaking.  Drop one dye tablet in the tank and wait twenty minutes (without flushing).  If the water in the bowl turns blue, you have a leak.  If you discover a leak, the internal mechanism in the tank needs to be adjusted or replaced.  You may want to consider replacing an old high-water use toilet with a new water efficient one.  These can be purchased for as little as $100 locally and these water efficient toilets use only about one gallon per flush as compared to as much as six gallons per flush for older models.  To check your toilets for a leak, stop by our office (8am to 4pm, Monday through Friday) and ask for a free package of dye tablets.