A Guide to DEP Three-Day Water Main Notices

August 20, 2020

A Guide to DEP Three-Day Water Main Notices

When the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) receives a report of water bubbling up in the street, reduced water pressure, or leaks in a building’s foundation, they will come to the location to determine the source of the leak. If they find that the leak is coming from a residential or commercial water service pipe, they will issue a notice requiring repair within three business days. Property owners must understand their responsibilities when this happens, so we have provided this guide to DEP three-day water main notices.

The number of water main leaks have continued to rise in New York City over the past several years. But there is a difference between leaks in the city main that supplies water to all the residences on a city block and the water service pipe that runs from the city main to the home or apartment building. Property owners are responsible for repairing leaks in their water service pipes.

When DEP receives a report of a leak, or notices water pooling in a street, or other signs of a leak during routine inspections, they will ask to access properties connected to the city water main in the area of the leak. They will ask property owners to turn off their main water supply line, and use a sound test to determine the source of a leak. Water service lines that are free of leaks become silent when all the water in the building is turned off. If DEP personnel hear the water service pipe still making noise, even when the building water is turned off, they know the pipe is leaking, and they will issue the three-day water main notice.

What Does a Three-Day Notice Require?

Property owners who receive three-day water main notices must hire a plumber licensed for underground work, and repair the leak within three business days. Inspectors may come out to confirm the repair is complete; if the problem hasn’t been resolved, owners are subject to a fine and receive a 10-day notice that DEP will turn the water off. If the leak is causing a hazardous condition, such as damage to adjacent property or sinkholes in the street, the city may require emergency water turn-off in less than three days. In such cases, the city will turn off the main water supply under the street and charge the homeowner $1,000.

Contact a Plumber Licensed for Underground Work

A licensed plumber can provide emergency water main repair. If the plumber determines additional time is needed to repair a leak after the issuance of a three-day notice, they can work with the city for an extension. The plumber can turn off the cited property’s tap on the main city line to determine if the leak is actually coming from another property, or even the city water main. While the homeowner must still pay the contractor for opening the road and checking on the leak, they can submit a claim to the city for repayment for an inaccurate three-day notice. That situation is rare, as the city has a 98 percent accuracy rate in identifying leaks.

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