The Saratoga Sun -

Pipe bombs

Saratoga sewer board hears about town-installed potentially faulty plumbing that could burst at any time

 


The agenda at the monthly meeting of the Saratoga Water and Sewer Joint Powers Board (Sewer Board) was mostly routine business, except for the “time bomb” laying on the table in front of sewer board Chairman Don Price.

The time bomb, as it were, was a piece of pipe several feet long that was removed from a property on Barrett Drive at the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort by local contractor R.G. Raymer Construction. Randy Raymer, the owner of R.G. Raymer Construction, brought the pipe in after removing it from the Barrett Street property. The pipe, Raymer said, was installed by a contractor hired by the town as part of the water meter project several years ago. The pipe failed because of workmanship errors, Raymer said, and dozens of others around town have failed.

There are still over 1,000 of them in town, and if they fail property owners are responsible for the repair, even though the plumbing was installed by a contractor hired and supervised by the town.

The pipes fail because the pipe was not properly reamed after it was cut, Raymer said. Not properly reaming the pipe after cutting it leaves a “lip” inside the pipe. If not removed, the lip can cause a joint to fail.

Repairing the pipe itself may not even be the biggest expense borne by homeowners, Raymer said. Often, things like sidewalks, driveways, landscaping and in some cases even parts of streets must be torn out and replaced during the repair, he said.

The Barrett Street property cost between $1,000-$1,500 to repair, Raymer estimated.

Raymer brought the issue up to the sewer board to see where the town stands on the low quality of workmanship in the pipes, and whether the town intends to fix the pipes when they fail.

“I know the town has fixed many of these, about 100 or so,” Price said. “When Mr. Bartlett (former Saratoga town engineer) was here, there were 55-gallon barrels full of pipe just like that they had fixed.”

Those repairs were done by the town and were not paid for by the homeowners, Price said. At some point in time, the rule changed to require the homeowner to fix the pipes.

Price said he did not know when that change was made and did not recall discussing such a change while he has been on the board, but said he believed the town should be responsible for the faulty pipes.

Board member Roger Cox agreed with Price. “I agree that from the meter pit to the house should be the homeowner’s responsibility,” Cox said. “But, if that piece there was installed by the people that were contracted for this project, then the town should be responsible.”

“It should still be town’s responsibility until every single one in town is changed, then maybe we can switch back to the homeowner’s responsibility,” Price said. “It’s still the meter pit, and we don’t want homeowners to handle the meter pit, that’s against state statute.”

The town, Price said, also needed to revise its ordinances since the town’s water meter ordinances are so far out of date, they don’t even address the existence of meter pits.

Board member Craig Kopasz, who is also an engineer, said he would begin reviewing the meter ordinance and would begin work on drafting an updated version that addresses meter pits.

After the ordinance is drafted, the board will consider adopting it. It may take several months before that happens, Price said.

The next scheduled meeting of the sewer board is 6 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Saratoga Town Hall.

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