Frequently Asked Questions About Water and Wastewater Service

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There are a number of State agencies that may be able to assist customers with their utility bills. The statewide West Virginia 2-1-1 service is a good source of information on available resources. It can be reached by dialing 211 or at http://www.wv211.org/.

Contact the utility to set up a Deferred Payment Plan (DPP). The DPP outlines the amount of money you must pay on a past due bill and a schedule to make the payments. Once you agree to a DPP, you are required to pay the current bill in full and on time. You are also required to continue making payments on the DPP in order to prevent your service being terminated.

Always contact the utility first with any question about billing. Have your account number available, so the utility representative can easily access your information. If you still have concerns after speaking with the utility, you can contact the Public Service Commission by calling 1-800-642-8544 or at http://www.psc.state.wv.us/complaints/default.htm.

First, contact the utility and explain the situation. The utility may require you to provide written proof of repairs you made before making a leak adjustment to the bill. If the leak qualifies for an adjustment, the utility will give you a recalculated bill.

The purpose of a minimum bill is to allow the utility to fairly recover some costs incurred in providing service to the customer. Typically, a minimum bill is calculated based on a specific amount of usage; usually 3,000 gallons or less. Customers with usage in that range are then charged a minimum bill.

No. As long as the “customer of record” (the person whose name the service was in) no longer lives at the address where the balance was incurred, the current customer cannot be held responsible for a prior tenant’s bill.

Utilities can issue bills at various times of the month based on meter reading schedules. It is important that you know when a bill is due, the last day the bill can be paid without incurring a delayed payment penalty charge, and when a bill is considered delinquent, which is when the termination process can begin.

The water utility can estimate a bill if the utility is unable to read the meter due to lack of access to the meter, unusual conditions, holidays or weekends or if the utility includes estimates as part of its reading schedule.

You can make your utility payments by mail, at the utility’s office, over the telephone or online if the utility offers that option. Utilities may have a designated location where you can make payments in person. There may be a fee assessed by these locations for conducting this transaction, and the payment may not be credited immediately. Contact your utility for more information about approved payment locations.

Public service districts are required by law to collect a deposit. Other types of utilities may charge a deposit, but it is not required by law.

If you are not a tenant, your deposit will be returned to you after 12 months if you have paid your bill on time with no late payment penalties applied to your bill. Tenants who are customers of a public service district or municipality will have their deposits returned after their final bill has been paid.

Water service can be disconnected if you have not paid your water and sewer bills on time and in full. The utility must give you a written notice and cannot disconnect the water service sooner than 10 days after mailing the notice.

If your service is being terminated for non-payment, a utility must attempt to make personal contact with you at least two times, at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled termination.

A utility may disconnect service without notice when a condition arises that may be hazardous to life or property, or if the utility’s equipment or facilities have been tampered with.

If you have your water/sewer disconnected for non-payment of a water bill, contact the water/sewer utility to determine the cost to re-activate your service. Disconnected customers may face a disconnect charge and/or a reconnect charge, as well as a deposit (if one is not already on file) in addition to payment of the outstanding bill. You may negotiate with the utility to set up a payment plan for reconnection; however, the utility may require full payment plus applicable fees up front.

If you experience an emergency relating to your utility service and are unable to contact anyone with the utility, contact 911 emergency services.

Contact the utility to apply for service. The utility may require you to provide identification, and you must tell the utility whether you are a tenant or the owner of the premises to be served. You may be required to pay a deposit.

To terminate water service, you must notify the utility. The Public Service Commission recommends notifying the utility in writing. This protects you and the utility in case issues arise later concerning the disconnection.

Your meter should be located at or near your property line, whenever possible.

Low water pressure can be the result of a variety of factors, including the elevation of the residence, undersized water mains or system leaks. Each situation should be evaluated to determine the specific cause of the low pressure problem. You should first contact the utility. If you are not satisfied with the utility’s response, contact the Public Service Commission for assistance.

Written certification from a licensed physician, verifying that termination of service would be especially dangerous, must be received by the utility within 10 days after the utility informs the customer about termination and must be renewed every 30 days, starting from the date the certification is sent to the utility. However, the certification need not be renewed if a licensed physician can state to a reasonable certainty that the condition is permanent. This process does not prohibit termination, but allows extra protection for those who need it. The customer must still be willing and able to pay on the account.

A tariff is a document that states what the utility can charge its customers. It is on file at the Public Service Commission and can be found by searching the Commission’s records online at http://www.psc.state.wv.us/utilities/default.htm

There are two Commission rules that explain how to get water service extended. The first is the long service line rule. This rule is used when the customer’s property is located far from a utility’s existing main, when the cost to extend service to the customer under the Commission’s main extension rule is too high and if there is no expectation of growth or development in the area. In this case, the utility may install a meter in the utility’s right-of-way at a main nearest to the customer’s property. If the utility’s main is on the other side of the road from the customer’s property, the utility makes and pays for the road crossing to the customer’s side of the road. The utility connects the water meter to the customer’s service line. The customer is responsible for maintaining the service line from the meter to their house.

If a utility later extends the main to serve the customer, the customer must stop using the long service line and connect to the main. At this time, the customer is responsible for paying a tap fee.

In situations where a long service line is not an option, customers would have to request a main extension. The customer’s first step would be to contact the utility. This may be done in person, by telephone or in writing. The utility will then explain all available options. Once the customer knows the options, they must make a written request for a cost estimate.

The utility must give the customer a written copy of the cost estimate. Once the customer receives the cost estimate, a decision can be made about whether or not to continue. Each utility has a utility-specific free extension limit. If the cost of the extension is less than the free extension limit, the utility will proceed to make the extension. If the cost of the extension is more than the free extension limit, the customer must pay the utility the difference before the utility will make the extension. The estimate is just that, an estimate. If the actual cost of the extension is more than the estimate, the utility will bill the customer for the difference. If it is less, the utility will refund the customer’s money.

The main extension rule is one of the Commission’s most complex and misunderstood rules. It is recommended that you click on the rules link and read the entire rule: http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/ruleview.aspx?document=6964. Feel free to contact the utility or the Commission to discuss your situation.

First, contact the utility. A customer may do this in person, by telephone or in writing. The utility will then explain all options available to the customer. Once they know the options, the customer must make a written request for a cost estimate.

The utility must give the customer a written copy of the cost estimate. Once they receive the cost estimate, the customer can make a decision about whether or not to continue. Each utility has a utility-specific free extension limit. If the cost of the extension is less than the free extension limit, the utility will proceed to make the extension. If the cost of the extension is more than the free extension limit, the customer must pay the utility the difference before the utility will make the extension. The estimate is just that, an estimate. If the actual cost of the extension is more that the estimate, the utility will bill the customer for the difference. If it is less, the utility will refund the customer’s money.

The main extension rule is one of the Commission’s most complex and misunderstood rules. It is recommended that you click on the rules link and read the entire rule: http://apps.sos.wv.gov/adlaw/csr/ruleview.aspx?document=6939. Feel free to contact the utility or the Commission to discuss the rule.

When a new main extension is being considered, prospective customers can sign a User’s Agreement, which is a written agreement between the customer and the utility. The agreement typically contains information about applying for service, deposits, tap fees and charges that will be incurred if a customer signs a User’s Agreement and then refuses to connect to the water system. Customers who sign a User’s Agreement typically agree to pay a minimum water bill for a specific time period from the time the main extension is available to serve them, which is usually three years. A signed User’s Agreement is a legally enforceable document.

Yes. The utility should provide this information to you in writing.

State law states that a public service district can charge customers whether or not they are connected as long as service has been determined to be available. The bill can be based on the customer’s actual water consumption, if the customer is metered, or the average consumption of the customer’s class.

A service moratorium is when a utility finds its facilities can no longer serve additional customers. When that happens, the Public Service Commission or another State agency, can order the utility not to take on additional customers. Until a moratorium has been imposed, a customer cannot be denied service by a utility on the grounds of a moratorium. If a customer has been denied service because of a moratorium, they may file a request with the Commission to be granted service.

Yes, a utility can declare a temporary shortage of water, usually after an extended period of lack of rain. The utility must tell the Public Service Commission and the general public about the shortage by issuing a Local Water Rationing Plan. The plan can be found by contacting the utility or online at: http://www.psc.state.wv.us/scripts/webdocket/viewAllWCMForWebList.cfm

The Public Service Commission does not have the authority to award damages. Any request for compensation should go through magistrate or the circuit court system or your insurance company. However, a complaint may be filed with the Commission to determine whether a utility has engaged in an unreasonable practice that resulted in the damage in question.