1. How do I start service for water, sewer, trash, and recycling?
To start service you need to go to the utility office on the first floor of City Hall at:
801 Michigan Ave.
La Porte, IN 46350
You need to bring identification including a picture ID, a Residential Service Application, a deposit of $35, and a one-time service start fee of $20 to cover the cost of start up. The deposit is returned or will usually be applied to your final bill when you discontinue service.
2. Where does La Porte’s water come from?
La Porte’s water system is supplied by groundwater from deep wells. The water is pumped from the wells to one of two treatment plants before it reaches your home.
3. Is the water filtered?
Yes. All of the water that goes into the distribution system to customers comes from one of the city’s two filtration plants. After the plants filter the water it is pumped into the grid-configured distribution system constructed mostly of iron pipes.
4. Are lots of chemicals used in treating the water?
No, there is not a need to use many chemicals. The water is basically safe to drink from the wells, but it goes to filtration plants to further enhance the quality. At the plants the iron and manganese are filtered out. If the iron and manganese were left in the water they would stain plumbing fixtures and laundry. Hydrogen sulfide is removed to eliminate the rotten egg odor that is common to many private wells in the area. A small amount of chlorine is utilized to pre-treat the water and also to ensure the water quality as it moves through the distribution network. A small amount of fluoride is added to prevent tooth decay. A very small amount of a common food-grade orthopolyphosphate is added to minimize the corrosion of pipes.
5. How much chlorine and fluoride are in the water?
Chlorine in the distribution system usually averages at 1 part per million (ppm) and fluoride is at .7 ppm. This is the equivalent of 1 pound of chemical in 1 million pounds of water.
6. Are there any dangerous chemicals in the water?
La Porte water meets all Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Safe Drinking Water Act Standards for all chemicals or compounds. It is considered to be a safe and healthful source of drinking water.
7. If I open the faucet and the water looks rusty is it safe to drink?
Because the system is constructed of cast iron pipe, some corrosion does occur. When there is a high flow rate from the usage of a fire hydrant or other system component, the product of the corrosion, which is rust, can be stirred up.
If rusty water is encountered, run the cold-water tap until the water clears and also avoid doing laundry until in clears. The water is tested regularly and is safe to drink. It is also a good idea to call the water plant and report the problem so that our staff can investigate to determine the specific cause. We have someone on duty 24 hours per day and also have a full-time water quality supervisor. We take all quality complaints seriously.
8. Is bottled water better than city water?
There is no quality or safety advantage to drinking bottled water. Water that is bottled and sold in stores often comes from a municipal system or a treatment system similar to municipal systems.
Bottled water is convenient because it is portable, but once you buy the bottle just refill it with city water and take it with you. If you pay $1 for a 20 ounce bottle of water remember that you can refill that same bottle 2,184 times for $1 at city rates.
9. What can I do to protect our water from contamination?
The simplest thing you can do is to make sure that you never dump anything on the ground that you don’t want to drink someday. This is because the water in our area (both city water and private wells) comes from sand and gravel aquifers. These aquifers readily supply us with water, but are easily contaminated from the surface by the improper disposal of the chemicals used in daily life or from business and industry.
10. What is hard water and is it bad or good?
Hardness is a measure of the concentration of calcium and magnesium salts in water, which are generally present as bicarbonate salts. Water hardness is derived largely from the water contacting soil and rock formations as it filters through the ground. Hard and soft waters are both satisfactory for human consumption. In fact the minerals that generally make up water hardness are healthful.
La Porte’s water is considered to be hard water. Effectively this means that it can form a scale in household plumbing, on cooking utensils, or in water heaters. Soap does not clean as efficiently in hard water and leaves more residues in bathtubs, sinks, and clothing. For those that choose to use a water softener La Porte’s water hardness is approximately 330 parts per million or 19.2 grains per gallon.
11. How much does the water cost and how does it compare to other cities?
La Porte uses a declining block rate schedule. This means that the more water that is used the cheaper it gets. The first step in the rate block is $2.93 per 1,000 gallons. This is for the first 5,000 gallons used each month. The cost is $2.69 per 1,000 gallons for the next 10,000 gallons used.
The rates decline further for the next 35,000 gallons to $2.51 per 1,000 gallons. The next 50,000 gallons is priced at $2.09 per 1,000. Finally, any usage over 100,000 gallons is priced at $1.61 per 1,000 gallons. Most residential usage occurs in the first two rate blocks. The lowest-priced rate blocks are important in that they help large industrial users remain competitive, which helps to keep jobs here in La Porte.
La Porte’s water rates are near the average for a community our size in Indiana. View a complete rate schedule.
12. How does the water get to my house from the filtration plant?
Large pumps located at the filtration plant pump the water into the distribution system. The distribution system is a grid-shaped network of iron pipes. La Porte’s distribution system is made up of approximately 130 miles of pipes with more than 1,500 valves and 800 fire hydrants. Three 500,000 gallon elevated tanks are also located within the system.
13. Who is responsible for the water line that connects my house to the city water main at the street?
The property owner is responsible for the pipe (water service line) that connects the structure to the water main at the street. During new construction, the property owner pays the Water Department to tap the main and a plumber to install the water service line. Under current regulations, the property owner is responsible for the maintenance of the water service line and shut-off valve. If a leak develops on the portion of the line between the city water main and the shut-off valve at the curb, the Water Department crew will make repairs and bill the property owner only for the materials used in the repair. The department absorbs the cost of the labor and equipment that is used in the repair. This helps to keep the costs down for the property owner.
14. How much water does a normal family use each month?
The average person uses somewhere between 60 and 75 gallons per day. For a family of four, this works out to somewhere between 7,000 and 9,000 gallons in a month. We have seen many families reduce their usage to 5,000 or 6,000 gallons per month by being conservation-minded in their water using practices.
15. What are water towers used for and how do they work?
Water towers are used to store treated water to help to meet peak customer demands and to balance the load on the pumping plants from peaks and valleys of customer usage. The pressure from the water pumps pushes the water up into the water towers. When customers use more water than is being pumped from the plants, the water flows from the towers into the system to help satisfy the demand. If customers are using less water than is being pumped from the plants the excess pumped water refills the towers.
16. Where is the water meter and how often is it read?
For most homes, the water meter is in the basement or crawlspace usually along the front wall facing the street. If your home does not have a basement then it is either in a meter pit in front of the house, in the cabinet, or near the water heater where the line comes up through the floor slab. Most houses have a remote reading meter where a display unit is wired up to the meter and mounted outside the house to allow the meter to be read from the outside. Water meters are read and billed on a monthly basis.
17. If I have an emergency, how do I turn off the water?
Every house is required to have a shut-off outside that the Water Department can use to shut off water and a valve by the meter that will shut the water off from the inside. If your water meter is in the basement, a crawl space, or if it is in a trap door or closet there should be a shut-off valve by it. It is a good idea to put a brightly colored tag on it so you can find it easily in an emergency. Make sure that other members of your family know where it is and how to turn it off in an emergency. If you rent in a multiple unit building you should call your landlord in an emergency.
18. What is the most common cause of abnormally high water bills?
There is no question that most high water bills are caused by toilets that run or leak water directly to the sewer. The toilet normally accounts for 30% of all water usage in the home. To make matters worse studies have shown that 20% of toilets leak. The other most common leak sources in the home are the water softener, irrigation system, dripping faucet, and the humidifier on a furnace.
19. How can I tell if my toilet is leaking?
Normally you will not hear a toilet leaking until the leak is quite severe, but the cost can be substantial. A leak in a pipe the size of this dot (.) could mean the loss of hundreds of gallons per day. Most toilet leaks occur at the overflow pipe or at the plunger ball inside the tank. To determine if your overflow pipe is leaking, flush the toilet with the tank lid off. The water level should refill up to about one-half inch below the overflow pipe. Adjust the float level control screw, if necessary, so the valve shuts off the water at that level. If the valve itself is leaking, it will probably need to be replaced.
Another test would be to drop a little food coloring or dark beverage into the holding tank. Do not flush, but wait about half an hour to see if the colored water appears in the toilet bowl. If it does you probably have a seeping leak around the flapper valve or plunger ball and need to replace these worn parts. If the coloring disappears from the holding tank without flushing but does not appear in the toilet bowl, then you may have a crack or break in the overflow pipe allowing the water to seep into the pipe.
There are, of course, other areas which could be a source of water loss, but these are the most common. Please feel free to call on us to assist you where we are able.
20. Is it hard to fix a toilet if it is leaking?
If you are handy with tools it is not hard to fix most toilet leaks and the parts are generally available at local hardware stores. If you are not sure of what you are doing it is best to call a plumber.
21. What number do I call if I want more questions answered or have an emergency?
If you want any additional information about La Porte’s water or have a water emergency, call 219-326-9540. We have someone on duty 24 hours a day to assist you.