Bangor Water

Article Title: Rights and Responsibilities

Article Content

Much of what Bangor Water does – especially billing, payments, collections, and water line installation and repair – is regulated by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

Below you will find highlights of your responsibilities as a customer and our responsibilities as a regulated utility. Complete copies of the “Customer Rights and Responsibilities” and “Terms and Conditions of Service” as approved by the MPUC are available for download.

GENERAL

Our business hours are 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday – Friday (excluding holidays).  A service crew is available 7:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Monday – Friday (excluding holidays).  Limited emergency service is provided for nights, weekends, and holidays at the discretion of Bangor Water and at customer expense.

OWNERSHIP AND MAINTENANCE OF THE WATER SYSTEM

Who owns and who maintains the various pieces of the water system?

ITEM RESPONSIBILITY
Water main in the street Bangor Water (unless a private development)
Water valves on the water mains Bangor Water (unless a private development)
Service line from the main to the curbstop Bangor Water
Service line from the curb stop into the building Property owner
Curbstop (external shut-off valve, usually  in the right-of-way or near the sidewalk) Bangor Water
Service box (iron box with a cover that protects the curbstop Bangor Water
Inside plumbing including valves Property owner
Water meter, meter horns, and remote reader units Bangor Water (customer pays for any damage including freezing)
Backflow prevention device Property owner
Fire hydrant (including shoveling and plowing) Bangor Water (unless a private development)

Private companies offer “water line insurance” to help cover customer expenses such as a broken or frozen water line. Bangor Water doesn’t endorse the insurance or any company. A decision to purchase water line insurance should be based on a number of factors:

  • The age of the home: Water lines serving newer homes are usually made of copper, and unless disturbed by digging or some other intrusion, should last for many years. Most service lines are buried deep enough to not be affected by frost.
  • The material involved: If the line is made of galvanized steel, the metal has a shorter lifespan than copper and was probably installed a number of years ago.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance: Find out what is covered and not covered (inside and outside the house) in your policy, and what your insurance agent recommends.

Bangor Water can often provide information on the customer’s section of the service line such as age or materials used.  Contact our engineering department during business hours.

APPLYING FOR SERVICE

You must complete an application for water service before we accept you as a customer; you should apply as soon as you are responsible for the service. We charge a fee, payable at time of application, each time you sign for service.  Service may be disconnected if you don’t complete the application process.

We require at least two business days to begin the process of providing service, and up to five business days to discontinue service in your name. You are responsible for charges until you provide notice and we complete the termination process.

We will either agree to provide water service or deny it within one business day. If we deny service, we will send you the reasons in writing and tell you what you can do about it.

BILLING

In general, Bangor Water sends bills on a quarterly basis, with the exact billing date depending on where your property is located in our service area. Your bill will be for the previous 90 +/- days of water use.

Water bills are based on the amount of water measured by the water meter in your basement or utility closet. Most locations are equipped with meters which can be read from the outside of the building.  Most residential locations are equipped with a 5/8-inch meter. Currently, the minimum quarterly charge for this size meter is $41.71. Under the minimum charge, you are allowed up to 9 hundred cubic feet (6,732 gallons) per quarter or 75 gallons per day.

WATER BILL PAYMENTS

Your water bill is due 28 days from issuance, and may accrue interest beginning on the 29th day.  You can pay your bill by cash, check, or credit card – unless your privilege is revoked. If a payment is not honored by a financial processor, we will charge you $10 per account (paper checks) or $15 per account (electronic payments).

We will continue water service even if you can’t pay your account in full, as long as you pay a reasonable portion of your bill and establish a payment agreement to pay off the balance.  If you don’t make payments according to the agreement, we will send you a disconnection notice that gives you three (3) business days to bring the agreement up to date.

Possible Financial Assistance: www.211maine.org or dial 2-1-1. Other sources may be General Assistance at your city/town hall, Penquis CAP in Bangor, or the Dept. of Health and Human Services in Augusta (287-3707).

DISCONNECTION OF SERVICE

We don’t want to disconnect your service. However, if a customer doesn’t contact us or refuses to cooperate, we have the right to start disconnection proceedings. Some reasons for disconnection are:

  • Failing to pay, or make and keep a payment agreement for an overdue bill
  • Using water without completing the application process
  • Failing to  provide access for us to read/install a meter or to repair/replace our property
  • Tampering with the meter
  • Misrepresenting yourself on the service application
  • Not complying with an MPUC decision

In most cases, we will mail you a disconnection notice 14 calendar days before shutting off the water. In certain circumstances (broken payment agreements, dishonored payments), we will provide three business day’s notice.  We can disconnect your water service on the date stated in the notice, or within 10 business days of that date. We will not disconnect service on a Friday, a weekend, a legal holiday, the day before a holiday, or on any day our office is not open for business.

Tenants have specific rights under MPUC rules. If the landlord doesn’t pay the water bill or asks us to take his name off the water bill, we will post a notice at the property prior to shutting off the water. This allows tenants the opportunity to 1) pay the current charges on behalf of the landlord OR 2) transfer the account into the tenant’s name for future bills.

If the water bill isn’t paid and our service worker comes to the door to collect, we will charge a $35 collection fee. If your water service is disconnected for non-payment, we will charge you a $65 reconnection fee during business hours.

We will not disconnect or refuse to reconnect residential service when you or someone in the building has a serious medical condition, as long as a registered physician provides specific written certification. If you cannot get a doctor to call right away, you may let us know yourself.  We will wait three (3) business days for the doctor to contact us. Disconnection can be postponed due to a medical emergency for up to 30 days and can be renewed twice in any 12-month period.  A medical emergency does not cancel a bill.

INTERRUPTION OF WATER SERVICE

We may need to interrupt service on occasion to repair or maintain our equipment.  When possible in non-emergency situations, we will let you know at least 24 hours in advance why and how long you can expect to be without service. We will give you more notice whenever possible.

If your service must be interrupted without notice due to an emergency, we will try to let you know as soon as possible how long you are likely to be without service. We maintain a list of customers with special water needs. If being without service would pose a danger or serious damage to you, notify us.

COMPLAINTS

If you have questions or complaints, please call us. We have employees available during business hours to answer your questions, set up payment agreements, and resolve disputes. We will investigate your complaint and try to resolve it. If you disagree with our answer, you have a right to appeal to the Consumer Assistance Division of the MPUC, State House Station 18, Augusta ME 04333-0018 (1-800-452-4699).