Mike Steinke, 59, outside his Valley Stream home on Thursday....

Mike Steinke, 59, outside his Valley Stream home on Thursday. Steinke said he plans to opt out of a program to repair broken lateral sewer pipes. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Valley Stream officials have contracted with a Long Beach company to offer a program that they say will protect village homeowners from paying thousands of dollars to fix leaky sewer pipes.

The program, similar to one in the City of Long Beach, aims to help owners of aging houses should they have to repair underground pipes spilling effluent that could harm groundwater, village officials said.

Notices will go out later this month to residents explaining the program, Village Clerk James Hunter said.

"The intention of the program is to help people avoid a very large problem" if a pipe breaks, Hunter told Newsday. "We've had these breaks in the past and it’s quite expensive, as far as the costs of repair."

Officials said pipe repairs are common in older homes and can cost thousands of dollars when performed by private contractors.

While sewer providers are responsible for repairing pipes entering properties, homeowners are on the hook for pipes, known as sewer laterals, coming out of their homes.

Valley Stream last year awarded a five-year contract to Pipelogix LMS to run the village program. The company was the only firm to place a bid for the contract, Hunter said.

Village residents will pay $191.88 this year to be part of the program; rates will increase $12 a year each of the next four years, according to the contract. Enrollment is automatic but residents may opt out, officials said.

But some residents say they plan to opt out, saying the program's annual fee is too much for a problem they may never have to deal with. Some say other private plans are cheaper.

"If a problem comes along, I can pay for it, but there are other insurance plans you can pay for, for less money," said Mike Steinke, 59, a retired New York City police officer.

Michael Belfiore, 75, a former village trustee, called the program "laughable," adding such pipe breaks are "rather rare."

"There’s a whole industry with these warranties," he said. "They’re all a little different, but this is the most expensive."

He said he signed onto a private program that charges $190 annually but also provides repair service for his indoor plumbing and waterline.

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who has announced a gubernatorial bid, said in a statement to Newsday he supports the repair program, adding faulty pipes "have been longtime contributors to the pollution of our groundwater, waterways and coastlines — oftentimes, without the knowledge of the homeowner."

Long Beach officials said they have had a good experience with Pipelogix, formerly Brady Risk Environmental, since contracting with the company seven years ago. City residents pay $120 annually to be part of the program.

"This is a separate insurance program that, for this $10 a month fee, you can rest assured that you’re not going to get hit with a $5,000 bill should something go wrong," Long Beach spokesman John McNally said.

Pipelogix owner Michael Bloom said the Valley Stream program costs more because the average village house is further from the curb and sewer pipes are longer.

He said about 28% of Long Beach residents opted out.

"A lot of Long Island homes were built in the mid-20th century, and these things are just breaking," Bloom said. "It’s a matter of when, not if, those pipes are going to fail."

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