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Plumbing issues could send bills soaring under proposed tier system

Broomfield’s proposed water tier system could spike costs if a home has undetected leaks.
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(Stock photo)

A simple plumbing leak could cause utility bills to surge under Broomfield’s proposed new tier system for water usage, said Levi Torres, president of the local business High 5 Plumbing.

“A leaky toilet that’s letting water leak into its bowl from the tank — that can use upwards of 50 to 100 gallons of water just leaking into your toilet throughout the day — that can now put you into another tier,” Torres said. “I’ve seen it where there’s water flowing in a house, whether it be from faucets or toilets, and then their water bill for the month is $1,000.”

That bill would be even higher under the proposed tier system — residents who use more water would receive higher bills, and those who conserve water would see reduced utility bills.

“If you have a leaky sprinkler system — that’s obviously going to end up costing you more money, because where the water is leaking isn’t affecting you — it’s leaking outside into the ground, so you would never know about it,” Torres said.

Residents also have to watch out for water heater pressure relief valve leaks, he said.

“Those unforeseen leaks can be what is most expensive,” Torres said. “The one key to a water leak, is it’s always just going to get worse, so the longer you wait, the higher chance it’s going to turn into a big bill.”

Broomfield residents already pay some of the highest bills in Colorado for living expenses, according to the bill platform Doxo. The average bills add up to $2,872 each month for Broomfield homes — 43.4% higher than the national average, the data shows. Out of 48 Colorado communities, Broomfield ranked No. 4 for highest average monthly bill payments — falling only behind Parker, Erie and Monument, Doxo reports.

If some Broomfield water bills climb under the proposed tier system, it’s important for residents to take action and check for efficiency, Torres said.

“They do make what you call ‘dye tablets,’ which you put in the tank of your toilets, and within 10 minutes, that little tablet dissolves and changes the color of the water in your tank, and it will let you know if any of the tank water is flowing into the bowl, which is usually a big cause of a lot of wasted water,” Torres said.

Detecting and fixing some leaks requires professional help however, he said.

“Not everyone has the money to pay for us to get out to their house — we do offer a free service, which is called, ‘High Five Live,’ which is where we set up for a video interview — essentially you have to be at your house, in front of the problem, on your cell phone, and we can get you on the phone with a licensed plumber to look at the problem without even anyone going out there.”

For households that decide to invest in an inspection, they often start at less than $100 for a small residence, and the plumber can catch issues that are causing higher bills, Torres said.

“A lot of times to save money, you may have to invest a little bit to get a professional’s plan to tell you what you can really do to save money,” he said.

City Council has scheduled a final vote and public hearing Oct. 25 for the new water rate tier system.