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Mandatory water system upgrade, quick deadline frustrates DRW resident

Says Agate Water Co. gave him, others just weeks to make costly change

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- When Robert Brown of Deschutes River Woods opened his mail on Wednesday morning, what he found is not what he was expecting.

“I felt bullied, to be honest," Brown told NewsChannel 21.

Brown received a letter from Agate Water Company, notifying him that he has 30 days to upgrade his water control valve system -- an upgrade he said could cost him $2,000.

"I felt like they were trying to force me to do something right this minute that they have had years to plan and talk about it,” Brown said.

In a statement to NewsChannel 21, Agate Water said the upgrades are for the Oregon Water Quality Act of 1981, and that a 30-day notice is how they have always conducted business.

"Thirty days allows customers the time to make arrangements to have one installed. with Agate Water's approval. More time can be allowed, if needed, as long as the customer is willing to stay in contact with us regarding the progress of the installation," the statement read.

Brown has lived in his house for 22 years and agrees that the upgrades are the right thing to do, but did not agree with the way Agate Water is handling the situation. In the letter, the company said if a customer does not meet the update requirements in 30 days, they could have their water shut off.

“To just send me a letter that I get that says 25 days later, 'You get this done or we are going to turn your water off' -- that’s not right,” Brown said.

Brown said he plans to get the upgrades done, but did file a complaint with the state Public Utilities Commission, voicing his frustration with the way Agate is handling the situation.

Agate Water did say it could shut off water to customers, but only as a last resort, stating, "We are committed to working closely with our customers to avoid termination of services for non-compliance."

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Jordan Williams

Jordan Williams is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jordan here.



  1. This is wrong. It is the water purveyors responsibility to install premise isolation valves at private residences. It’s not the property owners responsibility to protect the purveyors water system.

    1. Agate has been way more intense about the backflow valves over the past couple years than in all the decades past, its a common topic of conversation in drw

      1. Of course they are being more intense. The state is asking them why they don’t have premise isolation backflow prevention in place. So instead of them installing the valves (required by state law) they are threatening home owners and pushing the cost on people that may not have the funds.

    2. Actually the water system is responsible to the meter, anything beyond the meter belongs to the user (homeowner) including any backflow device that is installed, required or not. The meter itself belongs to the water system. downside of the backflow device is that per regulation it has to be tested every year at the cost of the homeowner. Everything from the meter on is the homeowner’s water system.

  2. Lived there 22 years and only now are getting around to installing a backflow preventer – because you are being forced. Sorry, not sorry…

  3. $2000 dollars for a backflow installation? Maybe if its Botanical Developments or Springtime Landscaping, but most other landscape companies can do you right for between $250-$500 dollars. You can also just do it yourself.

    1. Yep! I’m a licensed backflow installer/ tester, have been since 2002. Anyone charging 2k for a simple backflow device install and test is fleecing the general public. The last one I installed was right around $600. Digging conditions, location etc can sometimes influence cost. No way I could install one for $250 unless it was already dug up, pipe cut and I didn’t have to bury the valve boxes though. I would say most installs range between $400 and $700 a few exceptions. Those few exceptions have gone up near $1000 but that’s tops on a site with extreme digging or a mainline that is buried far too deep. I had one a couple of years ago where the mainline was over 4 feet deep (they added soil after utilities were installed). The pit we had to dig just to make a point of connection was ridiculous. Rare but it happens so I always work for Time and Materials on all irrigation/ plumbing jobs. Parts alone for the last backflow install were about $200 and the test/ filing is $55.

  4. It cost us over $250 in supplies. Then you need to pay someone to test it. Its a total pain to do it. Unless digging is your thing.. Pay someone if you can.

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