5 Reasons DEP Would Turn Off Your Water Service Line

July 29, 2019

It is not often that DEP would turn off the water main feeding a residential or commercial property but it does happen. In most cases the property owner is issued a violation stating that premises has a water main leak somewhere in between the main control valve inside the house and the city water main in the roadway. The city will issue a 3 day notice violation stating that the water main must be repaired or replaced within 3 days.

The most common reason for the water being turned off is when the property owner fails to respond to the DEP 3 day notice violation. The city will excavate in the roadway and close the valve at the city main. At this stage they will issue the property owner a secondary notice referred to as a 10 day notice.

DEP turns off water for a failure to resolve 3 day notice

The second reason for having the city turn off your main water line is if the water main is leaking into the area of another utility. The risk here is that the water main may damage the other utility (gas or electric in most cases). For this reason they may not issue a 3 day notice and turn off the water to avoid any harm to the surrounding neighbors, or damage to the other utilities.

Water main leak damages gas service

Another reason for turning off the water would be if the water main leak has caused the roadway or sidewalk to undermine and the roadway begins to collapse. In some cases the city will continue with the standard protocol and issue a 3 day notice. However, if they feel that the undermine is causing a potentially dangerous situation they will skip this step and proceed with a 10 day notice resulting in the water being turned off.

Water main leak results in roadway sinkhole

The final reason why DEP would cut the water off is if the broken water main was flooding a neighbor’s basement and as a result was causing damage. It is possible that you are not even aware that your water main is leaking and only find out after a DEP supervisor knocks on your door to check your water main. They would most likely perform a noise test on the pipe and conclude where the leaking water is coming from.

Neighbors water main break floods basement

It is possible that you are away on vacation when the water main begins to leak and DEP has no way to notify you. If the water main leak is that bad they will have no choice but to excavate the roadway and close the water from the tap valve connection.

Another similar scenario is if the house is vacant and someone attempts to steal the piping inside the house. Unfortunately when this occurs the thief usually does not take his time to disconnect the pluming and usually rips it out of the wall leaving the water to flood the basement.

In this case the DEP will proceed with the water main turn off and completely void the violation process.

How to avoid the water from being turned off?

If you suspect any of the issued mentioned above may be occurring or if you have already received a 3 day notice it is extremely important to contact a licensed master plumber who is allowed to excavate and work in the roadway. This is not your typical plumber, the plumber you are looking for is a specialist and is commonly referred to as a sub surface water main and sewer contractor.

The licensed plumber will detail the scope of work that is required to satisfy the leak. In most cases it requires excavating in the roadway, possibly the sidewalk and the property to install the new water main.

Harris excavates for water main replacement
New piping installed

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Making sure the dirt being removed is at least a foot away from the hole is important. 
No debris should fall back into the tunnels as the team is working 

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