Rights & Responsibilities updated 4/02/12
The Maine Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Protection Standards for Water Utilities (Chapter 660) requires us to publish a summary of the rights and responsibilities afforded to applicants and customers to ensure the minimum standards for providing service, as well as credit and collection practices, are followed according to MPUC guidelines.
Every privilege that is granted and every duty that is required by Chapter 660 imposes an obligation on utilities, applicants, and customers to accept these privileges and perform these duties with good faith, honesty and fairness, and in accordance with Portland Water District’s approved Terms and Conditions.
Throughout this document, the terms, “we”, “us” and “District” refer to the Portland Water District. The term “you” refers to the applicant or customer. The term “MPUC” refers to the Maine Public Utilities Commission. The term CAD refers to the Consumer Assistance Division of the MPUC.
PWD provides sewer billing and collection services for participating municipalities. PWD does not establish sewer rates for these municipalities; each municipality sets their own sewer rates, Once the sewer bill has been paid, PWD gives the sewer revenue it has collected to the municipality. The participating municipalities are: Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gorham, Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Windham. Your water service may be disconnected for non-payment of your combined water and sewer bills in these participating municipalities.
OUR CONTACT INFORMATION
Application For Service
Applying for Water Service
When you apply for service, we pledge to treat you fairly. As part of the process, you may be required to complete an application form or answer some questions before we accept you as a customer. If you are applying for residential service, we may ask you to provide proof of identification, including, but not limited to, photo identification.
We may condition the granting of service on the compliance of your premises' equipment with local, state and national plumbing codes and with our Terms and Conditions.
Once accepted as a customer, we agree to provide service by the next business day as long as facilities already exist.
As a customer, you are responsible for notifying us of billing
address changes, and any changes to your contact information. You
are also responsible for notifying us when you terminate service and
for providing complete information for a final bill.
Cost of Service
Prior Unpaid Bills
Reasons for Requiring Deposits
Residential Customers: We can demand a deposit from a residential customer only if: you file a petition under the Federal Bankruptcy Act when the Federal Bankruptcy Act allows the utility to demand a deposit; you request service be reconnected at the same or different location after you were disconnected for nonpayment; or you had an unpaid balance at the time you applied for service for which we were unaware due to fraud or material misrepresentation.
Non-Residential Applicants: We may demand a security deposit from any non-residential applicant as a pre-condition of granting service.
Non-Residential Customers: We may demand a deposit from an existing non-residential customer in lieu of disconnection authorized by Section 10 of Chapter 660 or if you were not required to pay a deposit as a precondition of service but you have become an unacceptable credit risk as determined by PWD.
Disclosure: We must inform you in writing within three (3)
business days of the deposit demand and the disclosure must include
Deposit Amount and Payment Options
Non-Residential Applicants and Customers
Return Of Deposit
Frequency of Billing
Bills, Payments and Usage
Designation of Third-Party to Receive Copies of Bills and
Accuracy Of Meters
You can check the accuracy of your bill and monitor your own usage by reading the meter yourself. Information on how to read your meter can be found on our web site or by contacting us.
Sewer Billing and Collection Services
Below are some occasional or one-time fees you might incur.
New Customer Activation Fee. You will be charged a $14 fee if you request a change to an existing account causing an additional customer account record to be created.
New Meter Or Service Fee. If you request a new service, you will be assessed a $55 fee to review your application in addition to inspection and meter fees.
Returned Check Fee: You will be charged the greater of $5.00 or bank charges, up to a maximum of $15.00 per account, if your check is returned for insufficient funds or incorrect bank information.
Late Payment Fee: These fees change annually (18% A.P.R. maximum). Late payment fees are assessed for overdue water bills that are not paid within 25 days from the postmark date of the bill or the e-bill notification date.
Close Metered Accounts Fee. When you request closure of an account, and there is no new customer taking service, you are responsible to make arrangements with the District to remove the meter. Failure to obtain the meter will result in billing you a fee established in section 10 of our Terms and Conditions. The fee will be refunded if the meter is subsequently retrieved and is not damaged.
Collection Fee: If we visit your property to disconnect service for nonpayment, and in lieu of actual disconnection, you pay or make a payment arrangement for the entire balance due, you will be charged a collection fee of $22.00.
Posting Fee: If District personnel visit the premises to post a disconnection notice as required by Chapter 660 of the MPUC rule, the District shall charge $22.00 for each visit to the premises to post such notice.
Reconnection Charges: When we are notified to reconnect during Normal Business Hours, the charge is $58.00. When we are notified to reconnect during Other Hours, the charge is $41.00 per hour with a minimum charge of $105.00.
Diversion Charge: If District personnel expend time investigating and documenting a diversion of water by a customer, the customer shall be responsible for all documented costs of investigation and adjustment incurred by the District, unless fees are otherwise recovered pursuant to 35-A.M.R.S.2705.
Payments and Financial Assistance
Our bills are due upon presentation. Late fees are assessed for overdue bills that are not paid within 25 days from the postmark date, or 25 days from the e-bill notification date.
You may pay your bill by mail, online, or in person at our office at 225 Douglass Street in Portland. If you mail your payment to us, your bill is considered paid on the day we receive it. If you pay at our office or online at our website, your bill is considered paid on the day you make the payment. If you make a partial payment, we will apply it to the oldest basic service balance unless you specify otherwise. To make online payments on our website, go to www.pwd.org and click on the MyOnlineBill link to sign in or register.
We accept payment by cash, check, money order, or electronic transfer. A charge may be assessed to the accounts of any customer whose payment is rejected for insufficient funds or incorrect bank information. We will, upon request, furnish you with proof of bank charges above $5.00. PWD does not accept credit cards at this time.
Lifeline water rates follow Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) guidelines. Homeowners with an annual household income that is 80% of the Area Median Income may qualify for financial assistance to repair plumbing. The Opportunity Alliance (formerly PROP) administers the programs identified above on behalf of PWD. Please contact The Opportunity Alliance at (207) 553-5800 or 800-698-4959 for more details.
We will consider the following issues when making a payment
We will send you a written copy of the payment arrangement.
If you do not make payments according to a written payment arrangement, we will send you a disconnection notice that gives you three (3) business days to pay the full overdue amount. We are not required to make a second arrangement, but we will attempt to respond to your particular situation.
You do not have to agree to a payment arrangement, or any other proposed settlement of a dispute, if doing so means giving up other rights afforded you in Chapter 660 of the Maine Public Utilities Commission Rules and Regulations.
When Disconnection Cannot Occur
Disconnection of the customer’s residence without customer consent cannot occur if we are notified of a serious medical condition that will be certified by a physician or the physician’s agent within 3 business days. Contact us for details.
A disconnection notice is valid for ten (10) business days after the disconnection date stated in the notice. The ten (10) business days may be extended if we are denied access to the meter or other device to turn off service.
The disconnection notice will tell you what to do to avoid disconnection and how you can dispute your bill or the disconnection itself.
We will not disconnect service for non-payment on a Friday, a weekend, a legal holiday, the day before a holiday or on any day our office is not open for business.
When You Want Service Disconnected
Disconnected Due to Non-payment of Account: If you request reconnection after being disconnected for non-payment of your account, and you were not on a payment arrangement, we must offer you a reasonable payment arrangement and we may require a deposit (refer to Deposit section).
Time of Reconnection: We will make a reasonable effort to reconnect your service during business hours on the same day we receive the request. At the latest, reconnection must be made before 5:00 p.m. the following business day.
Scheduled or Planned Interruption: When we schedule a service interruption to repair or maintain our equipment or the delivery system, we will give affected customers reasonable notice of the cause and the expected duration of the interruption. If the scheduled service interruption affects more than 10 customers or a single commercial customer on a dedicated line, or lasts more than 5 hours, reasonable notice means 3 days, if feasible, but 24 hours at a minimum. In other cases reasonable notice means notice as soon as practicable.
Please promptly notify us if being without service would pose a
danger to any member of your household. We will put you on a
priority list to restore service as soon as possible.
PWD is liable for damages only to the extent expressly provided in the Maine Tort Claims Act (Title 14, Chapter 741). We are not responsible for damage caused by discolored water, unsatisfactory water service resulting from the cleaning of pipes or storage facilities, or from the opening or closing of any valves or hydrants, unless the damage was caused by our negligence. We are also not responsible for meeting unusually high water quality standards for specialized or industrial customers. You may apply for a pro-rated reduction on your minimum bill if your service is interrupted for more than 48 hours through no fault of your own in accordance with MPUC Chapter 620 (2)(H)Please contact us for information about interrupted or unsatisfactory service.
We will not disconnect service, or refuse to reconnect it, if you or someone in your house is seriously ill and a registered physician confirms that an emergency exists that would be seriously aggravated by lack of service. If you cannot get a doctor to call right away, you may let us know yourself. We will wait three (3) work days for the doctor to call or write us. We also require written certification from the doctor within 7 days of the oral notification. If we do not receive notification from your physician we can proceed with disconnection. Once we receive written certification from the physician, disconnection can be postponed due to a medical emergency for up to 30 days. Only 3 medical emergency certifications are allowed per premise as a whole in a 12 month period.
A medical emergency does not cancel the bill; we will require you to make a reasonable payment arrangement.
We can begin disconnection procedures when certification of the medical condition expires if you have failed to pay or enter into a payment arrangement.
If you have a question or complaint about our service, please call us. We have employees available during business hours to answer your questions, make payment arrangements, investigate your complaints, and resolve disputes.
PWD will review claims for damages, except when the damage is beyond our control. Claim forms can be obtained on our web site or by calling our Customer Service Department at (207) 761-8310.
If you disagree with our decision on your complaint, you have the right to appeal to the Consumer Assistance Division (CAD) of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, State House Station 18, Augusta, Maine 04333. You can call the CAD (Consumer Assistance Division) at (207) 287-3831 or toll-free at 1-800-452-4699, or email the MPUC at email@example.com. Before you contact the Commission, you must give us a chance to respond to your complaint.
We cannot disconnect your service for a disputed amount, but you do have to pay the portion of the bill that is not in dispute. If you contact us before the service is disconnected, and we cannot agree on a payment arrangement or other requirement to stop disconnection, you can appeal to the MPUC as described above.