While the Statesboro Fire Department continues to hold public meetings to help homeowners better understand changes to Insurance Services Office, or ISO, standards, local water companies are working to upgrade systems to meet the new demands and help lessen insurance costs to customers.
More stringent requirements by the ISO led to a rise in the ratings this year for many homeowners, according to Statesboro fire Chief Tim Grams. While the water systems may have been up to standards before, ISO assessments have changed and become stricter. Water systems that may have contributed to lower ISO ratings in the past may need upgrades to maintain the higher standards, he said.
A higher ISO rating often translates into higher insurance premiums.
Though the issue is not the fault of any water system, Bulloch County’s four privately owned water systems are all making improvements to help meet the newer standards, Gram said at a recent public ISO meeting held at Trinity Episcopal Church. Meetings have also been held at the city fire station on Fair Road and at William James Middle School.
On Monday, Feb. 25, Grams will host another meeting at Langston Chapel Elementary School from 6–8 p.m.
Thad Dixon, with Southeast Fire Consultants, has also helped with the meetings, working with the Statesboro and Bulloch County fire departments as well as with the water companies. Bulloch County’s private water companies include Forest Heights Water Systems, MSO Water Systems, Water Utility Systems and O&M Water Systems.
Tony Daguillo, with Water Utility Systems, said his company is working closely with Dixon and consumers to bring the best service possible and hopefully help improve some ISO ratings.
“Every water system is different,” he said. “We are working on this on a case-by-case basis.”
The company has been upgrading meters and pipes that may not have been adequate regarding the new ISO standards, he said. Also, hydrants are being installed to ensure there are available water sources within the required proximity to all homes and structures.
“We are working hand in glove with the city, county and contractors,” he said. “We are willing to help in any way we can.”
Forest Heights Water Systems owner and manager Edie Olliff said her company is also making upgrades.
“We are making sure all hydrants are credible and have adequate water flow,” she said. “We have added two or three hydrants to make sure” each home is at least 1,000 feet from a working hydrant.
Forest Heights is also working closely with Dixon during the upgrading process, she said.
MSO Water Systems owner Lindsay Martin declined comment “at this time,” adding he would like to expound on the issue at a later date.
He did state that his water systems have always been tested and maintained and said the company is working with local officials as well as MSO clients regarding the issue.
Representatives with O&M Water Systems did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Anyone with questions regarding the ISO issue is welcome to attend the meeting Monday or to call Grams at (912) 764-3473.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at 912-489-9414.