In a bleak sign of the times, the Payson Town Council recently approved policy changes to make it easier to shut off water on foreclosed homes.
The new policy will allow the town to shut off water service to a home before the Sanitation District shuts down the sewer line.
That shift will actually prevent potentially serious problems caused by having the water running after the sewer line has been shut off, said Buzz Walker, who runs the town’s water department on an independent contract with the town.
Walker said that if the town doesn’t shut down the water service in conjunction with the sewer system cutoff, it can in some cases cause water to back up out of the sewer system block and into the streets.
The policy change will ensure the sanitation district contacts the town any time it plans to cut off sewer service. In theory, the town would get the notice from the sanitation district in time to send out its own water cutoff warning.
The town would then shut off the water no more than three days prior to the sanitation district’s cutoff date.
The policy said that in certain circumstances, the town can cut off water service without notice. Those circumstances include preventing fraud or abuse and to “prevent any serious public health hazard, including, but not limited to, lack of connection to an approved sewer or septic system or the discharge of sewage in any manner other than to an approved sewer or septic system.”
Historically, banks rarely foreclosed on homes in Payson. However, in the past two years the number of foreclosed homes in town has hit record levels.
During the extended hard freeze in Payson, pipes burst leading into 300 homes. Town officials said many of those homes were foreclosures owned by banks, which had not called to stop water service — even though the homes were empty and unheated.