December 19, 2011

Sharing the Responsibility for Quality Water Service

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) provides water to its customers and maintains the water mains required to deliver water to homes and businesses.  DMWW also owns the water meter used to measure consumption.  Property owners are responsible for the connection (tap) to the water main and the piping (service line) that carries water from the main to the meter.  The property owner is also responsible for protecting and providing access to the water meter.  When a problem occurs, DMWW staff will assist the property owner in determining the cause of the problem and the appropriate course of action.


What is a stop box?

The stop box houses the valve used to turn the water service on and off to a property.  It is usually located in the public right of way.  DMWW requires that the stop box be operable at all times.

Who owns the stop box?

The property owner owns the stop box and is responsible for its repair.

How does the stop box operate?

To operate the stop box, a long key is placed inside the housing and lowered onto the valve to turn the water service on or off.  Sometimes, due to age or damage, the stop box does not operate, requiring repair.

Why is the stop box operated?

DMWW will operate the stop box:

  • to terminate service at the owner’s request when a property is sold.
  • to cut water service for internal plumbing repairs.
  • at a rental property to discontinue water service when the tenant is moving.
  • when a customer fails to make timely payment on their water bill.

Sometimes a stop box needs to be repaired. What are the reasons for repair?

  • When the stop box is too high or too low. The top of the stop box should be level with the ground.
  • If the stop box is located under concrete or asphalt, a repair must be made so that the stop box is accessible.
  • If the housing for the stop box becomes bent and the key cannot be lowered into the housing.
  • If the rod is loose in the stop box and does not connect to the valve.
  • When the valve does not operate.’

Who will make the repairs?

DMWW is not licensed to make plumbing repairs and we recommend that you contract the services of a licensed plumber.  If you do not make repair arrangements, DMWW will contract the services of a plumber and bill the charges to your account.

How much will it cost for repairs?

The cost will depend on the work required to make the repair.

What if my service line starts to leak?

Please notify DMWW if you notice water leaking and our representative will assist in determining the location of the leak.  Sometimes it is difficult to determine the source of the leaking water as it follows the path of least resistance and does not always come to the surface right near the leak.  Once located, the property owner will be notified to contact a licensed plumber to make repairs to the leaking service line.

What if my service line starts to leak and water is not coming to the surface of the ground?

During our routine leak survey of the distribution system, using electronic leak detection equipment, leaks are sometimes located that don’t come to the surface.  Our leak detection personnel will attempt to determine the source of leaking water and inform you of its general location.

Who is responsible for the water meter?

The water meter is usually located in the basement or in a meter pit outside the building.  The property owner is responsible for protecting the meter from freezing temperatures and providing access to the meter and meter reading equipment.  The water meter is owned by DMWW.

If you need additional assistance, please call (515) 283-8771.

Posted by: Ted Corrigan 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure

One Response to “Sharing the Responsibility for Quality Water Service”

  1. June 13, 2012 at 9:09 am, Customer Advisory Council – We Want You! | Des Moines Water Works said:

    […] stopboxes.  Customers are responsible for maintaining their water service line, including the stopbox, and when a service line or stopbox needs repaired, the cost to repair is often significant and […]


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