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ACWD customers offered optional insurance deal, as water rate hike starts

By Chris DeBenedetti
Monday, February 4th, 2013 at 5:24 pm in Uncategorized.

Even as Tri-City water customers brace for a significant rate hike that will help fund pipeline upgrades, thousands of residents are opting to pay a little more for a waterline insurance service offered to them for the first time.

About 3,600 of Alameda County Water District’s 55,000 residential customers, or 6.5 percent, are paying $4.95 a month to receive emergency repairs for broken service lines on their properties, under a deal the utility struck last year with HomeServe USA, a Connecticut company providing the repairs.

Though the insurance offer is optional, some residents say they are put off by another request to pay up, after the rate increase — effective last Friday — is raising the average customer’s water bill by 17 percent.

“There are many baby boomers here on a fixed income, people who can’t afford $4.95 a month,” said Olivia Armijo, a longtime Union City resident. “I can pay it but what if my neighbor can’t?”

The service covers problems that occur on water lines set between the home and water meter on a customer’s property, HomeServe spokesman Myles Meehan said.

“A water utility typically is responsible for water mains on the street, and homeowners are responsible for lines on their property,” Meehan said. “Our plan covers that point on the property where responsibility transitions from the utility to the homeowner.”

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