Carl Feldman and I, board members of Northeast Neighbors United, volunteered to knock on the doors of neighbors listed on the city website as those addresses still needing water meter upgrades. These addresses need to at least contact GridOne to make an appointment at (866) 733-8303 or email@example.com.
The post on Facebook generated some interesting discussion. First of all, some people found the downloadable PDF unhelpful, and complained about needing to scroll through dozens of pages of addresses with little sense of organization. Protip: use search when confronted with a long PDF or other document containing digital text. In this case, however, there is a great map with bright red dots for addresses in danger of having their water shut off.
My experience was like the majority: I booked a 3-hour window last summer and they turned up, switched out my old meter with a new one, and then made sure there were no leaks, no problems. However, many people have had real troubles. The majority of problems are unfortunately the responsibility of the property owner. If the pipes break or the valve on either side of the meter needs replacing, the property owner will have to pay for the fix. Some people have the mistaken impression that the city or water company is responsible for pipes before the meter. The fact is that the property owner is responsible for all the pipe branching off the mains under the street or sidewalk. This is typical of all the places I have lived (a long list).
Walking around the George Ross neighborhood, I didn’t find many people home Saturday mid-morning. I suspect that nearly half of the properties were vacant, some were obviously so. A couple of people thanked me for the information and took a flier. Several people vented frustration with GridOne and related stories of truly horrible customer service. One homeowner told me she made two difference appointments where the contractors turned up outside the times of the appointment block and then complained she wasn’t home. Then they washed their hands of her and told her to contact the city! Ooof.
Another couple explained that they needed to change out the valve before the meter, but the valve in the sidewalk was concreted in. I looked at it, and it was clear that many years ago some contractor had done a sloppy job pouring the concrete sidewalk slab so that the water valve cover was partially covered. Apparently, when GridOne was confronted with that, they shrugged and walked away. Wow.
After that conversation, I noticed how a couple of weeks earlier, UGI’s contractor had done a similarly sloppy pavement repair outside my house around the emergency gas shut-off valve. I took a picture with my phone and sent it to UGI’s customer service email address. They replied the next day that they will get that cleaned up so that if the gas does need shutting off at that valve in a hurry, nothing will interfere.
Please share your story in the comments below. If you need help, I can try assisting you with navigating the city and the contractor. However, you or a trusted adult friend will have make plans to be home during business hours to let the contractor in to do the work.
One sensible change the city made after its first threat of turning off the water to properties on the list is taking rentals off the list. I talked to one renter who did tell me her landlord was dragging his feet doing some necessary work to the pipe or valve that was necessary before the meter could be changed out. Still, if your rental is on the list, please do pester your landlord to get it taken care of!