By T.J. Pyette
Havre Mayor Bob Rice is working on a proposal that would offer Havre residents a type of mandatory insurance program for their city water lines and shut-off boxes.
Rice would like to implement a program similar to one used by the city of Billings, where all city water users pay an additional $1 per month on their water bill and the city then picks up the cost and responsibility of replacing broken water lines and shut-off boxes.
Right now, Havre homeowners are responsible for replacing the water line that runs from their home to the main line if that line is no longer working properly. In addition, the homeowner is responsible for the replacement cost of the shut-off box.
Rice said replacement costs can run several thousand dollars. "For twelve dollars a year, it's the cheapest insurance you can buy," said Rice of the program.
Rice said he has pursued this issue because he thinks the cost of replacing water lines is too much of a burden for homeowners. He also said that many shut-off boxes are in need of replacement due to faulty valves, and because of the expense, people are not replacing them.
Faulty shut-off boxes create major problems when a line breaks, said Rice, because the water from the main line can't be turned off and will keep flowing into the broken pipe, consequently flooding yards, homes and sometimes streets.
"I am currently going over the paperwork from Billings on this program," said Rice.
He plans to make the proposal to the Havre City Council, which will decide whether to go ahead with the program.