Cedar Park launches water relief program in wake of winter storm

When it rains its pours, but the wet weather that rolled in Monday is not what caused the damaged at Cedar Park First United Methodist Church. A repair crew spent the day removing sheet rock as well as flooring from the main building. It filled a large dumpster in the parking lot.

"Well it pretty well wiped out our entire sanctuary building," said Church Finance Secretary Ron King.

The church flooded when a water pipe broke late Wednesday February 17th. Water flowed out of the building. By the time the break was detected the next day. The damage was done. Ceilings collapsed - dumping soggy insulation on to furniture. Almost 2 inches of water covered the floors. A few things like the church piano were saved.

"Fortunately we do have insurance through church mutual and they've sent out an adjuster already and he is working on the numbers and we will be getting a check soon," said King.



What may not be coming is a massive water bill. The church is tapping into a new relief program launched by the city of Cedar Park.

"Our city council really wanted to get ahead of this situation," said Cedar Park city spokesperson Jennie Huerta.

The plan, which was authorized on the 25th, includes:

  •        Suspending all late fees and service disconnections for non-payment until May 12th.
  •        Sewer rates will now be calculated using last winter’s average.
  •        A 100% water leak adjustment is being allowed.

To get the relief, an application form has to be submitted.

"You'll be asked for documentation of the leak, such as plumbing repair receipts things like that so we have been encouraging everyone from the start, please be saving any receipts or documentation that you have or what occurred in your home," said Huerta.

Some of those who had water breaks caught them before losing a lot of water. That’s because of a program the city started a few years ago.

Digital water meters are in front of every home in Cedar Park and they are not just for generating bills.

"This is, our digital meter system, is essentially an early warning system," said Huerta.

During the thaw, between February 18th and the 22nd, the digital meters alerted the cedar park water department to 295 major leaks. The leaks on average flowed at a rate of 472 gallons an hour. The biggest was at a commercial property which was losing more than 9,000 gallons an hour. The system is not just for the water department receives.

"Customers do have the ability to create a portal for themselves, and receive those alerts directly and make adjustments accordingly in homes, but if you are not signed up for the portal we still receive the alerts," said Huerta.

To help with repairs, the city is also waving the $25 plumbing permit fee for 30 days.