Water Shutoff Protection Act

5.12.010 Termination for Non-payment – Electric and/or Non-Residential Water Service

5.12.010.1 A notice that service is subject to termination for non-payment shall be issued by the District when a customer’s account is past due.  Notice may be by issuance of a written Late Payment Reminder Notice, telephone, or personal contact with an individual eighteen years of age or older at the customer’s premises.

5.12.010.1 (A) Distrcit policy and procedure for the discontinuation of residential water service shall be executed in accordance with District Code 5.12.015 Discontinuation for Residential Water Service for Non-Payment

5.12.010.2 Late Payment Reminder Notices shall be issued to the customer at least 15 calendar days prior to the scheduled date of termination.  This notice will also be issued to a third party or a co-signer as appropriate.

5.12.010.3 The Late Payment Reminder Notice will include:

5.12.010.3(A) The name and address of the customer whose account is delinquent.

5.12.010.3(B) The amount of the delinquency.

5.12.010.3(C) The date by which payment or arrangements for payment is required in order to avoid termination.

5.12.010.3(D)  The procedure by which the customer may initiate a complaint or request an investigation concerning service or charges, except that, if the bill for service contains a description of that procedure, the notice pursuant to Section 5.12.010.2 is not required to contain that information.

5.12.010.3(E) The procedure by which the customer may request amortization of the unpaid charges.

5.12.010.3(F) The procedure for the customer to obtain information on the availability of financial assistance, including private, local, state, or federal sources, if applicable.

5.12.010.3(G) The telephone number of a representative of the District who can provide additional information or institute arrangements for payment.

5.12.010.4

5.12.010.4Final Notice of Termination of Service - The District will make a good-faith effort to give the Customer advance notice of at least 48-hours before discontinuing service. Additionally, the District shall make a reasonable effort to contact an individual who is eighteen years of age or older residing at the premises of the customer by telephone or personal contact. When telephone or personal contact cannot be accomplished, the District may though is not required to post in a conspicuous location at the premises, a notice of termination of service, at least 48 hours prior to termination. A trip charge to deliver the 48-hour Final Notice of Termination of Service shall be added to the customer’s account. Refer to the Miscellaneous Fee Schedule for current charges.  Every notice of termination of service shall include items of information as listed in Sections 5.12.010.3 above.  The 48-hour Final Notice of Termination of Service will also be issued to third parties and co-signers.

5.12.010.4(A) The District shall make available to all its residential customers a third party notification service whereby the District will attempt to notify a person designated by the customer to receive notification when the customer’s account is past due and service is subject to termination. The notification shall include information on what is required to prevent termination of service. The residential customer shall make a request for third party notification on a form provided by the District and shall include the written consent of the designated third party. Such notification does not obligate the third party to pay the overdue charges, nor shall it prevent or delay termination of service.

5.12.010.4(B)  If the customer does not make a payment, notify the District of a dispute of a bill, or make other arrangements acceptable to the District by the last day for the payment, the District will proceed on schedule with the termination.

5.12.010.4(C)(1)  Customers will not be allowed to make more than two (2)  payment agreements within a calendar year.  

5.12.010.4(C)(2)  Customers unable to make payment  by the due date of their Final Notice shall be allowed to review their account with a supervisor.  Such review shall include consideration of whether the customer should be permitted to amortize the unpaid balance of his account over a reasonable period of time not to exceed 24 months. No termination of service shall be effected for any customer complying with an amortization agreement, if the customer also keeps the account current as charges accrue in each subsequent billing period. 

If the customer does not comply with the amortization agreement, it will be considered non-payment and the District will immediately mail a Final Notice of Termination to the customer and proceed with termination according to Section 5.12.010.4. 

5.12.010.4(D)  Payments made with uncollectible funds (i.e., non-sufficient funds, closed account, etc.) to avoid disconnection or in order to have service reconnected, will be considered non-payment and the service shall be subject to immediate termination without further notice. Customers who make payments with uncollectible funds to avoid disconnection or in order to have service reconnected will be placed on a cash only basis for a period of 12 months.

5.12.010.4(E) The employee carrying out the termination procedure will attempt to contact the customer at the service address prior to disconnecting service. A trip charge to disconnect electric and/or water service(s) shall be added to the customer’s account regardless of whether or not the disconnect is actually performed.

5.12.010.4 (E)(1) Customers subject to the termination procedure and who have meters capable of remote disconnect and reconnect shall be disconnected and reconnected remotely.  Fees shall apply for remote disconnects.  Customers enrolled in the Prepaid Service program shall not be subject to remote disconnect and reconnect fees. 

5.12.010.4 (E)(2) No payment arrangements will be made in the field.  All payments must be made through the District office either by phone or in person. Once a District employee is sent to terminate a service, the service will be disconnected until such time as the customer has made acceptable payment arrangements through the office. 

5.12.010.4(F) Termination will not be made on any Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday or any time during which the business office of the District is not open.   5.12.010.4(G)  In case of tenants whose electric and/or water service is in the landlord's name, the District shall make every good faith effort to inform the occupants by means of a notice, when the account is in arrears, that service will be terminated in 10 days.  In any such delinquent situation, the District will comply with California Public Utilities Code 16481 in implementing this termination of service procedure.

5.12.010.4(H)  Customers who have been disconnected for non-payment, made payments against uncollectible funds (i.e. non-sufficient funds, closed account, incorrect bank information etc.) to avoid disconnection or to have service reconnected, have made arrangements to amortize the amount due or have asked for an extension to pay a past due amount, will be required to re-establish credit by paying the deposit required by Chapter 5.02.  Alternately, eligible customers may sign up for the Prepaid Service program outlined in chapter 5.07.

5.12.010.4 (I)  A customer who transfers service from one account to another and fails to pay his final bill within 30 days of the final billing date on the old account will be subject to the disconnect procedure at his new account.

5.12.015 Discontinuation of Residential Water Service for Non-Payment

5.12.015.1 Purpose California SB 998 (Stat. 2018, Ch. 891) amends the Health and Safety Code to address water utility shutoffs (called “discontinuation of water service” in the bill). SB 998 requires urban and community water systems to develop a written policy outlining the process for discontinuation of residential water service for non-payment, including specific provisions for customer notifications and additional considerations.   This section constitutes the District’s written policy that complies with SB 998.  This policy applies only to discontinuation of residential water service for non-payment.  All other causes for discontinuation of service shall be addressed within the applicable sections of District Code. 

5.12.015.2 Notification of Delinquency   Residential water service connections with payment delinquencies of 60 days or greater are subject to discontinuation of service.  A notice that service is subject to termination shall be issued by the District in accordance with the following schedule:

(a) The first notice of payment delinquency shall be delivered by mail or email (in accordance with customer account preferences) no less than 15 days prior to discontinuation of residential water service.  If the address specified in the customer account preferences is not the address of the property to which residential service is provided, the notice also shall be sent to the address of the property to which residential service is provided, addressed to “Occupant.” At a minimum, the notice shall include all of the following information:

                        (i) The customer’s name and address.

(ii) The amount of the delinquency.

(iii) The date by which payment or arrangement for payment is required in order to avoid discontinuation of residential service.

(iv) A description of the process to apply for an extension of time to pay the delinquent charges.

(v) A description of the procedure to petition for bill review and appeal.

(vi) A description of the procedure by which the customer may request a deferred, reduced, or alternative payment schedule, including an amortization of the delinquent residential service charges.

(b) A minimum of seven days prior to discontinuation of water service, the District shall provide a second notice of payment delinquency either by written notice, in person, or telephone, or personal contact with an individual eighteen years of age or older at the customer’s premises, notifying the customer of intent to discontinue service.  The customer shall also be informed at this time of the District’s alternative payment schedules for qualifying customers. 

(c) The third and final notification of payment delinquency and intent to discontinue water service shall be a written notice, physically delivered to the residence not less than 48 hours prior to shut off.

5.12.015.3 Qualifying Economic Hardship and Health Considerations A residential water service connection shall not be discontinued if the customer, can demonstrate a qualifying economic hardship and a valid health concern. 

5.12.015.3(A) For qualifications under this section, a customer must provide the District with documentation of financial hardship and the customer or a tenant of the customer provides written verification from a primary care provider that all of the following conditions are met:

  1. A primary care provider certifies that discontinuation of residential service will be life threatening or pose a serious threat to the health and safety of a resident; and
  2. The customer demonstrates that he or she is financially unable to pay for service within the District’s normal billing cycle. This includes:
    1. If any member of the customer’s household is a current recipient of CalWORKs, CalFresh, general assistance, Medi-Cal, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment Program, or California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children; or
    2. The customer declares that the household’s annual income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
  3. The customer is willing to enter into an alternative payment schedule with respect to all delinquent charges.

5.12.015.3(B) Residential water service customers under the terms of an existing alternative payment schedule are subject to discontinuation of water service if one or more of the following occur:

  1. The customer fails to comply with the terms of the alternative payment schedule; or
  2. The customer becomes more than 60 days delinquent on a subsequent water utility bill while under the terms of an existing alternative payment schedule.

5.12.015.4 Customers with Household Income Below 200% of the Federal Poverty Line Considerations For a residential customer who demonstrates household income below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, the District shall do both of the following:

5.12.015.4(A) Set a reconnection of service fee for reconnection during normal operating hours at fifty dollars ($50), but not to exceed the actual cost of reconnection if it is less. Reconnection fees shall be subject to an annual adjustment for changes in the Consumer Price Index beginning January 1, 2021. For the reconnection of residential service during nonoperational hours, the reconnection of service fee shall be one hundred fifty dollars ($150), but not to exceed the actual cost of reconnection if it is less. Reconnection fees shall be subject to an annual adjustment for changes in the Consumer Price Index beginning January 1, 2021.

5.12.015.4(B) Waive interest charges on delinquent bills once every 12 months.

5.12.015.4(C) A residential customer shall be deemed to have a household income below 200 percent of the federal poverty line if any member of the household is a current recipient of CalWORKs, CalFresh, general assistance, Medi-Cal, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment Program, or California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or the customer declares that the household’s annual income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level.

5.12.015.6 Restoring Residential Service

Reconnection of residential water service shall be facilitated in accordance with District Code, Section 5.12.050.

 5.12.015.67 Landlord and Tenant Considerations In circumstances where a landlord or property manager are responsible for residential water service payment, and the payment has become delinquent, the District shall make “good faith effort” to notify the resident(s) of the payment delinquency and intent to discontinue service not less than 10 days prior to water service shut-off. 

5.12.015.7(A) Prior to discontinuation of water service for non-payment, the District shall provide a qualifying tenant/renter the option to establish a new account for water service without being required to pay any amount which may be due on the delinquent account.  The new water service account holder shall not be responsible for the previously delinquent account balances.  Qualifying tenants/renters must agree to the terms and conditions of service and provide documentation demonstrating proof of residency and a current lease/rental agreement in good standing.

5.12.015.8 Reporting District staff shall report the number of annual discontinuations of residential service for inability to pay on the District’s Internet Web site and to the Board. The Board shall post on its Internet Web site the information reported.

5.12.015.9 Reconnection Fees (TBD) Reconnection of water service shall be administered in accordance with District Code 5.12.050.

5.12.015.10 Appeals Action taken under District Code Chapter 6.70 may be appealed in writing by the water utility service account holder.  Written appeals must be addressed to the District’s General Manager and received no later than seven days following receipt of the discontinuation of service notice to avoid water service shut-offs.  The residential water service in question shall remain in service until the District renders a decision.

5.12.015.11 Applicability This section does not apply to the termination of a service connection due to an unauthorized action of a customer.

5.12.015.12 Policy and Notices This section and all written notices required under this section shall be provided in English Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, and Korean.

5.12.015.13 Posting on Website This section shall be posted on the District’s Internet Web site.

5.12.020 Customer’s Request for Disconnection of Service – Electric and/or Water

5.12.020.1 The District shall permit a physical disconnection from the electric system when necessary (1) to permit the customer to perform repairs, modifications or service upgrades on the customer premises or (2) when the customer wishes power to remain off for an extended period.

5.12.020.2  The District shall permit a physical water disconnection (shut off at the water box) on a temporary basis when necessary (1) to permit the customer to perform repairs, modifications or service upgrades on the customer premises or (2) when the customer premises is not equipped with an appropriate shut-off valve and physical disconnection is necessary to avoid frozen water pipes.  A physical disconnect shall not be permitted for any other reason.

Customers may arrange for disconnection of service by giving advance notice to the District. Customers will not be billed for electric service while disconnected.

5.12.040 Disconnection of Electric and/or Water Service by the District

5.12.040.1 With Notice the District may disconnect electric or water service for any one or more of the reasons contained in this rule.  Except as otherwise specifically provided here, Public Utilities Code Sections 16481, 16481.1, 16482, 16482.1 and 16483 and any subsequent amendments, shall apply regarding any disconnect of service.  Except for a disconnect qualifying under Section 5.12.040.2(E), water billings will continue.

5.12.040.1(A)  Non-payment of bills - the District may disconnect or refuse service if a customer has not paid his bill for electric or water service rendered, reconnection charges, and/or cash deposit as required by the District.   Refer to Section 5.12.010.4 Termination for Non-Payment.

5.12.040.1(A)(1) Default on amortization or payment agreements – the District may disconnect electric or water service if a customer has failed to meet the terms of said agreement. 

5.12.040.1(B) Negligent or wasteful use of water, as determined by the District.

5.12.040.1(C) Where a customer receives electric and/or water service at more than one location and the bill or charges for service at any one location is not paid prior to delinquency, electric and/or water service at all locations may be disconnected.  

5.12.040.1(D) Failure to provide documents or payment as requested by a Notice to Comply.  Requested items may include, but are not limited to, service applications, signed payment agreement and payment by cash or money order for an item returned by the bank. 

5.12.040.2 Without Notice   A customer's electric or water service may be disconnected by the District without notice where:

5.12.040.2(A)  Unsafe/hazardous condition or illegal apparatus - the District may disconnect electric and/or water service without notice or refuse service if any part of customer's wiring, piping or equipment or use thereof is either unsafe or in violation of law, until such apparatus is placed in a safe condition or the violation remedied.  Water billings will continue regardless of the reason for disconnect.

5.12.040.2(B) Service detrimental or dangerous - the District may disconnect without notice or refuse service if in the District's judgment, the operation of the customer's equipment is or will be detrimental or dangerous to his/own service or service of other customers.

5.12.040.2(C) Fraud - the District may disconnect service without notice or refuse service, if the customer's actions or the condition of his premises is such as to indicate intent to defraud the District.

5.12.040.2(D) Cross Connection - the District finds a dangerous unprotected cross-connection between the District's water supply and any unapproved source of water.

5.12.040.2(E) Inactive and foreclosed accounts – In the event all three of the conditions stated in 5.12.040.2(E)(1) through 5.12.040.2(E)(3) exist for a customer account, service may be disconnected and all future billings, including water, may discontinue. The District may discontinue billing upon becoming aware of those three conditions, however, it is the customer’s responsibility to notify the District and provide sufficient evidence. Bills will not be adjusted retroactively and no refunds will be issued. A reconnect fee equivalent to time and materials may be charged at the time of reconnection pursuant to the Miscellaneous Fee Schedule.

5.12.040.2(E)(1) The customer’s service location is in the process of foreclosure, as evidenced by county records of a notice of default or notice of a trustee’s sale.

5.12.040.2(E)(2) The service location is vacant and unoccupied.

5.12.040.2(E)(3) No electric and water use was recorded during the most recent billing period.

5.12.040.2(F)  Failure to comply with the District's rules - the District may disconnect or refuse service if the customer does not comply with the District rules,  regulations, and/or codes for receiving electric and/or water service.

5.12.040.2(G)  Abandoned building or residence - the District may disconnect or refuse service to any building with the appearance of being abandoned (i.e., a look of being deserted, windows broken, doors in disrepair, or the general appearance of not being lived in, etc.).  Such disconnect will remain in effect until all conditions are met and fees are paid regarding a new service, and the service is inspected and approved by the proper building authorities.

5.12.040.2(H) Condemned building or residence - the District may disconnect or refuse service to any building that has been condemned by the proper state, county or local governmental authorities.  Such disconnection will remain in effect until all conditions are met and fees are paid regarding a new service, and the service is inspected and approved by the proper building authorities.

5.12.040.3 In those instances where the District disconnects electric or water service to any customer without notice, the District shall notify the customer of the reasons for the disconnection of service and the corrective action to be taken by customer before service can be reconnected.

5.12.050 Reconnection of Electric and/or Water Service

5.12.050.1 In those instances where the service to a customer has been disconnected, with or without notice, service shall not be reconnected until such time as the customer has taken any necessary corrective action, as determined by the District, and paid all bills and charges due the District, in addition to reconnection charges as established in the current Miscellaneous Fee Schedule, Appendix C.

5.12.050.1(A) Accounts that have been disconnected for non-payment of past due balances, failure to meet the terms of a payment agreement or failure to meet the terms of a Notice to Comply will not be eligible for reconnect on weekends,  holidays or after 4:00 p.m. on regular business days.  Arrangements to reconnect must be made through the business office during regular business hours. Reconnection for accounts paid after 4:00 p.m. will be processed on the next business day.  This does not include Prepaid Service customers.

5.12.050.1(B) Prepaid Service customers may recharge their accounts by making a payment at any time pursuant to District process. 

5.12.050.1(B)  Where District personnel must reconnect on site, upon reconnect of the electric meter the main breaker will be left in the off position.  It is the customer’s responsibility to move the main breaker to the on position.

5.12.050.2 Customers or their agents may request reconnection of electric and/or water services for a maximum 48 hour period in order to conduct inspections on a residence/business for sale.  This temporary reconnection shall require a minimum deposit as prescribed in Chapter 5.02. New Account fees as established in the Miscellaneous Fees Schedule Appendix C shall also apply. Customers with balances owing shall also be required to pay the entire balance owing prior to reconnect.

5.12.050.3 Within five years, same size service:  If service of the same size is re-established within five years of the date of disconnect, the customer shall make normal application for service as per Title 6.04 and/or Title 7.12 and pay reconnect fees based on the Miscellaneous Fee Schedule Appendix C, provided the service has not been damaged.  If the service has been damaged, the customer will be billed the actual cost to reconnect service. 

5.12.050.4 Within five years, upgrade of service:  If service is re-established within five years of the date of disconnect and the customer requests an upgrade of the service, the customer shall make normal application for service as per Title 6.04 and/or Title 7.12.  Customer shall pay reconnect fees based on the Miscellaneous Fee Schedule Appendix C, provided the service has not been damaged.  If the service has been damaged, the customer will be billed the actual cost to reconnect service.  Additional connection fees may apply. Facilities fees shall be charged for an increase in size of the new service when compared to the previous service.

5.12.050.5 After five years:  If service is re-established after five years from the date of disconnect, the customer shall make normal application for service as per Chapter 6.04 and/or Title 7.12. Customer shall be responsible for payment of current connection and facilities fees.  No credit will be given for previous facilities fees paid. The General Manager is authorized to credit connection fees for existing and operational facilities.

5.12.050.6 If conditions require the use of a backhoe or other equipment to effect the disconnect and/or reconnect, the customer shall be required to pay the actual charges, including labor, material, equipment and applicable overheads in lieu of the customary fee set forth in the Miscellaneous Fee Schedule Appendix C.

5.12.050.7 Should a customer decide to abandon the water service to a vacant parcel or to a parcel where the residence/building has been demolished, the customer shall sign a statement indicating his decision and agreeing that, should he or a new owner/developer decide to reinstate the water service, he will be subject to paying any and all connection and facilities fees in place at the time of reinstatement.  These accounts will be treated as new construction with no credits toward their prior fees.  Where the water service has been abandoned, the parcel will be assessed a water standby charge until a new service is established with the District.

5.12.060 Customer's Responsibility when Electric and/or Water Service is Disconnected In the event a customer's electric and/or water service is disconnected as a result of voluntary termination, termination for failure to pay bills or any other reasons stated in Sections 5.12.040.1 or 5.12.040.2, it shall be the customer's responsibility to take necessary precautions against any and all damage to the customer's pipes, fixtures and appliances which could result from such termination.  The District shall not be liable for any such damage.