Terms and Conditions
PWD provides sewer billing and collection services for participating municipalities. Please note that the District’s Terms and Conditions approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission and published on our website do not apply to the billing and collection of sewer fees; sewer billing is not controlled by the Public Utilities Commission except with respect to disconnection of water service for delinquent sewer bills. 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.
Filed at the Office of the Public Utilities Commission
As Amended May 1, 2014
These Terms and Conditions produced by the Portland Water District, and accepted by the Maine Public Utilities Commission will govern and guide the District in the operation of its business.
All District provision of service and credit and collection procedures in these Terms and Conditions will conform and be based upon rules of the Maine Public Utilities Commission except as hereinafter noted.
Except as explicitly provided herein, these Terms and Conditions are not intended to modify any rights or duties of the District or any customer or any authority of the Public Utilities Commission under any provision of Maine law, including Title 35-a of the Maine Revised Statutes Annotated or the rules and regulations of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
1) Billing Procedures
The due date of a bill must be at least 25 days after the bill is mailed or otherwise delivered to the customer. A bill is considered “mailed” on the date the bill is postmarked. If there is no postmark (as with an electronic bill) the District will send the electronic notification to the customer no more than 1 day after the bill date.
Bills may be rendered monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, or by the season at the option of the District. Metered minimum charges and private fire service charges, except for seasonal main charges, may be prorated for the exact number of days of service when service is open or closed.
The customer will be responsible for providing a correct billing address or email address if bill notification is received electronically. Failure to receive a bill does not relieve the customer of the obligation of its payment, nor from the consequence of nonpayment.
Applicants or customers may notify the District in writing if they wish to designate a Third Party to receive copies of customer bills and disconnection notices.
When a billing error is discovered the District will have up to 90 days to correct the error.
2) Collection Charge for Past Due Bills
If District personnel visit the customer’s premises to disconnect service for nonpayment and in lieu of actual disconnection, the customer pays or makes a payment arrangement for the entire balance due the District will charge a collection fee of $21.00.
If District personnel visit the premises to post notice of disconnection as required by Chapter 660 of PUC rule, District shall charge $21.00 for each visit to the premises made to post such notice.
2.1) Unauthorized use/Theft of service 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. For purposes of this section, Diversion shall mean the diversion of flow around the meter to evade charges as well as the unauthorized reconnection of service by a customer or his/her representative after water has been shut off due to nonpayment.
3) Restoration of Service
The District will charge a customer a connection fee to restore service at the customer's premises if service was disconnected for nonpayment of bills, violation of the Terms and Conditions, fraudulent use of water, dangerous conditions on the customer's premises, violation of Commission rules, or at the customer's request, including requests to have the curb stop operated to enable work to be done on private property.
When the District is notified during *Normal Business Hours to restore service or is requested to restore service during Normal Business Hours, a reconnection fee of $56.00 will be charged. When the District is notified during *Other Hours to restore service or is requested to restore service during Other Hours, the charge is $38.00 per hour with a minimum charge of $100.00.
The District will make a reasonable effort to reconnect service during *Normal Business Hours on the same day the request to reconnect is received. At the latest, reconnection must be made by 5:00 p.m. the following business day after the request.
* Refer to Terms and Condition 40 for definition of Office Hours, Normal Business Hours and Other Hours
4) Late Payment Charges
Late payment charges are assessed for overdue water bills that are not paid within 25 days from the postmarked date, or 25 days from the e-bill notification date. The interest rate charged will be at the maximum allowed under MPUC Chapter 870, Section 1.
5) Multi-unit Properties
Lien Charges for Multi-Unit Properties
The District will enforce its lien rights in accordance with 35-A M.R.S.A, Section 6111-A to collect a past due water bill. A $58.00 charge covering lien notification, preparation, filing, and processing will be added to the past due amount, and included as part of the lien filing.
Disconnection of Multi-Unit Properties
Before disconnection of a single meter, multi-unit property, for non-payment of basic service, the District will:
Mail a disconnection notice to the customer in accordance with Chapter 660 guidelines.
Post a disconnection notice at or near the front and rear entrances of the affected building(s), to inform tenants how service can be continued. The disconnection notice will be posted at least 10 days prior to disconnection of the water service.
In lieu of filing a water lien, the District will notify the appropriate participating sewer municipality, if applicable, of the pending disconnection to provide it an opportunity to solicit payment from the owner. If the bill remains delinquent and the municipality does not relocate the tenants and seeks to have water restored, the District will restore the water either per a court order, or if the municipality pays the District for the delinquent water balance and accepts a transfer of the delinquent sewer balance.
The District may authorize separate metering of each dwelling unit at the landlord’s expense, if the dwelling is disconnected for nonpayment of an overdue amount.
6) Interest on Deposits
The interest rate paid on all deposits will be in accordance with Chapter 870 of the Commission's Rules and Regulations.
The amount of the deposit will be based on the amount of the basic service in accordance with Chapter 660 guidelines.
7) Charge for Payments Returned
A charge will be made to the account of any customer whose check is returned by the bank for reason of insufficient funds or incorrect bank information. The charge shall be the greater of $5.00 or an amount equal to the actual bank charges up to but not exceeding $15.00. The utility will furnish the customer with proof of any bank charges in excess of $5.00.
8) Charge for Testing Cross Connection Backflow Device
A cross connection device must be operated to the standards outlined in the District’s cross connection control program as approved by the State of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services. An annual test of the device must verify compliance with the program. The customer must inform the District of the test results.
If the customer requests the District to perform the test, the charge to test one cross connection backflow device at a customer’s premise is $84.00. Each additional device tested concurrently in the same building shall be charged at the rate of $42.00 each.
9) Charge to Flow Test Hydrants
For a hydrant flow test to generate the static pressure, residual pressure and the water flow for a single hydrant, the charge is $195.00. For each additional hydrant flow test concurrently administered at the same site, an additional $38.00 will be charged.
10) Charges for Replacement of Damaged Water Meters
The charges to customers for costs incurred for the replacement of meter(s) one inch or less damaged due to improper care by customers are as follows:
Repair Meters Charges
|Meter Size||Charges to Replace During **Normal Business Hours||**Other Hours*|
|Meters up to 1"||$63.00 + cost of meter||$143.00 + cost of meter|
*Reflects minimum three-hour call out and overtime rate.
** Refer to T & C 40 for definition of Normal Business Hours and Other Hours
Meters larger than one inch will be billed the actual cost of replacement.
11) Rebate Policy
The District may rebate a portion of a customer's bill for leakage. The rebate will only be available one time during a five-year period on each account. Proof may be required to substantiate the leakage and repair. The rebate will be based upon deducting one-half of the billing in excess of normal usage. In no event will the rebate apply to leakage that occurred more than one year prior to the time the customer notifies the District of the leakage.
12) Faulty Remote Meter Adjustment Policy
If the District finds that a remote reading meter has under reported actual usage, it will abate one-half of the difference between the actual usage and the remote reading. However, the amount rebated cannot exceed the previous year's usage.
The District will only be liable for any damages arising from any claim by a customer to the extent liability is expressly provided in the Maine Tort Claims Act as set forth in Title 14, Chapter 741 of the Maine Revised Statues Annotated. The District makes no representations or warranties about the suitability of any water provided by the District for any particular purpose.
13-B Interruption of Service
The District will provide notice of any shut off to affected customers in accordance with Chapter 620(2)(H) and will make a prorate reduction in the customer’s bill as provided in that subsection.
14) Water Service
The applicant for a new water service shall provide upon request from the District, the name of the installing contractor, an approximate date of installation, a lot location or site plan, and the estimated maximum gallon per minute demand for this service. The service pipe on private property shall be adequately sized according to District standards, and rated at withstanding 160 pounds per square inch of working pressure.
14.1) Conditions for Water Service
- Multiple buildings on a single lot all owned by a single entity may be served by a single water service with a single meter installed in accordance with other provisions herein. However, if at any time after initial service is rendered, the lot is subdivided or one or more buildings or any portion thereof, is transferred to one or more different owners, then a separate water service and meter must be installed to each lot or building or portion thereof under separate ownership, from a water main having direct frontage to the lot or building. If water service to a new building cannot be obtained without crossing the property of the original or multiple owners then one or more permanent easements for water facilities, having terms acceptable to the District, must be created and recorded in the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds, for the benefit of the District and all new owners.
- In the event of the occurrence of one or more of the following conditions, the District may require, in its discretion, that customers bring their service into conformance with then current District standards:
- Significant water usage changes that may necessitate service line or meter size changes.
- The addition of an irrigation system or residential sprinkler system to an existing domestic-only service.
- The installation or upgrade of a fire sprinkler system or an addition of a private hydrant to an existing service line
Customers shall be required to notify the District of the occurrence of any of the above noted conditions. The District reserves the right to suspend water service to a customer until the service line setup meets then current District standards.
15) Isolation Valve
Every service must be equipped with operable isolation valves, with one valve above and one valve below the meter. The valves shall be located inside the building, near the service entrance and be easily accessible. The valves and meter shall be protected from freezing. All piping shall be so arranged as to prevent backsiphonage and to permit drainage whenever necessary. The isolation valve shall be owned and maintained by the customer.
15.2) By-Pass Valve
Effective February 1, 2008, customers desiring a by-pass valve must file an application for such valve with the District. Services shall be equipped with a by-pass valve only if the meter is 1.5" or larger, and if the applicant can document a need for business continuity to the satisfaction of the District. A by-pass valve shall be owned and maintained by a customer; it shall only be installed after the approval by the District, and shall be sealed shut. It can only be operated with the consent or approval of the District. In the event that the by-pass valve is unsealed or operated without the consent or approval of the District, the District, in its discretion, may require removal of the by-pass valve at the customer's expense.
No cross connection between the public water supply and any other supply will be allowed unless properly protected and supervised in accordance with the Department of Human Services rules, the District's formal cross connection control program, and the Public Utilities Commission's Chapter 62 Service Standards.
17) Maintenance of Plumbing
To prevent leaks and damages, all customers shall maintain at their own expense the plumbing and fixtures within their own premises in good repair and protect them from freezing. In the event of a frozen service, the District will inspect and determine where the service line is frozen. All costs associated with inspecting and thawing a frozen service line on private property shall be borne by the customer.
18) Fluctuation of Pressures by Customer's Apparatus
No customer shall install or use a water consumption apparatus that will affect the District's pressure or operating conditions so as to interfere with the service of another customer. If a customer has, or proposes to install an apparatus which requires water in sudden and/or material quantities, the District reserves the right to require the customer to install devices or apparatuses, which will confine such fluctuations of demand or reduction of pressure within reasonable limits as determined by the District.
If the customer, after receiving written notice from the District, fails to present an acceptable remedial plan within a time limit set by the District, service will be discontinued pursuant to provisions of the Public Utilities Commission’s Chapter 660.
19) Safeguarding Direct Pressure Water Devices and Systems Supplied by Automatic Feed Valves
All customers having direct pressure water devices, including but not limited to booster pumps, hot water tanks or secondary systems supplied by automatic feed valves shall install and maintain at the customer’s expense appropriate vacuum, temperature, pressure relief valves, and lower water cutouts in their water system to prevent damage, should it become necessary to shut off the water main or service, or should a pressure failure occur for any other reason. Water service supplied to any customer not providing such protective devices will be strictly at the risk of the customer, and the District will not be held liable for damage resulting from lack of or failure of such protective devices.
20) Access to Premises
Employees of the District by providing proper identification to either the customer or owner, shall have free access at all reasonable hours to all premises served by the District. The District’s employees, with authority from the customer or the owner, will be permitted to inspect all plumbing and fixtures, to set, remove, or read meters, to ascertain the amount of water used and the manner of use, and to enforce these terms and conditions.
21) Unauthorized Use of Water
No customer shall supply water to another, nor shall water be used for any other purpose except normal domestic usage and fire protection without District approval. No unauthorized person shall obtain water from a hydrant or other District fixture without prior District consent.
22) Seasonal Customer
A seasonal customer regularly takes service for only a portion of the year from either a surface or deep main. A seasonal customer will be subject to seasonal rules and rates. An initial bill will be generated and no additional charges will be assessed unless the consumption, upon closing the account, exceeds the usage allowed in the seasonal rate. When the account is closed the meter must be removed and the water service must be disconnected. Seasonal customers served by a surface main shall be provided water service between May 1 and October 15.
If a customer on a deep main vacates the premise for 3 months or less, and elects to remain on monthly rates, the District must be notified of that intent in writing, and the account will be closed. The customer’s meter must be removed and the water service disconnected. Upon request to establish the service again, a reconnection fee pursuant to Section 3 of these Terms and Conditions will be charged. A deep main is generally 5 ½ feet below grade. A surface main runs on top of grade or is buried less than 5 ½ feet below grade.
23) Water Meters and Meter Reading Device
The District will provide only one meter per each service. Meters must be installed in a safe, clean, dry, warm area at a point that is close to where the service pipe enters the customer’s premises and is readily and safely accessible to District representatives. Additional meters may be purchased by the customer. Maintenance of all District meters is provided at the District’s cost. If additional auxiliary or submeters are required by the customer for calculating subdivision of supply, they shall be purchased, installed and maintained by the customer.
The District shall install meter reading devices for meters owned by the District. The most beneficial location of this device, for efficient and safe meter reading purposes, will be determined by the District.
24) Meter Maintenance and Accuracy
The District has a program that removes, repairs, and tests, all meter sizes from 5/8" through 2" upon a twenty-year service period. Meters 3" and larger are tested in conformance with Public Utilities Commission Chapter 62 standards. Customer requests to test a water meter for accuracy are accommodated by the District without charge once every 18 months. More frequent tests of meters larger than one inch are at the customer’s expense based on the District’s actual costs. More frequent tests of meters one inch or smaller are subject to a $109.00 charge. It is recommended that the customer witness the meter test.
25) Close Metered Accounts
To close an account, the District may require the meter to be removed and the service shut at the curb stop.
Upon closing the account, the customer requesting the account be closed shall pay for the cost of the removing the meter if no one else is taking responsibility for billing and if the District is not provided access to retrieve the meter or the meter can not be located on the customer premises. The fee charged shall be the fees noted in section 10. The fee shall not be charged only if the customer does not have the ability to provide access to the meter. The fee shall be refunded to the customer if another customer takes responsibility for the account or the meter is retrieved subsequently.
When the customer requests the District to close the account, and there is no new customer taking service, the outgoing customer is responsible to make arrangements for removal of the meter. Failure to obtain the meter will result in billing the outgoing customer the fees noted in Section 10 of these Terms and Conditions. The fee will be refunded if the meter is subsequently obtained and is not damaged.
26) Meter Pit Policy
The District may require the customer of a property to supply and install and maintain a meter pit(s) to the District’s specifications at the customer’s expense as a condition of service when:
- The actual laying length of the service pipe measures over 300’ from the street line.
- The service location makes discovery of a possible leak unlikely.
- The use of service pipe deemed by the District to be inferior makes the possibility of a leak likely. (Copper pipe must be type K; plastic pipe must be rated 160 PSI.)
- A single service supplies two or more units with no suitable common area (accessible independently of any individual tenant/owner) in which to install the meter.
- A property of two or more units is supplied through multiple services, any one of which is located in front of, or enters a unit other than, the one it serves.
- The customer does not provide a clean, warm, dry, and safely accessible location for the meter and its appurtenances.
- The customer does not furnish an otherwise suitable location for a meter inside the customer’s building.
- The customer shall provide the District with the meter pit diagram describing the proposed meter pit specification for the District’s review and approval prior to the construction of the meter pit
All meter pits shall be installed on the customer’s property and installed as follows:
- In such manner to keep the pit clean and dry at all times.
- In such manner to allow District representatives to have access to the pit during office hours.
- In such a manner that all confined space entry equipment can be safely utilized in accordance with OSHA standards for confined space entry.
- On the customer’s property.
27) Size of Water Distribution Mains
The District provides water for domestic purposes and fire protection. The District requires all distribution water mains be adequately sized in accordance with Chapter 65 of Maine Public Utilities Rules and Regulations.
28) Winter Construction
No new water mains or services will be installed during winter conditions unless the customer assumes all extra expenses over the ordinary construction expense
29) Fire Hydrants
Fire hydrants may not be used for any purpose other than the extinguishments of fires, training purposes, or for such other purposes as may be agreed upon by the District and the municipality or owner of a private hydrant. In no case shall fire hydrants be operated by a person other than an agent of the District, except when used for fire protection or training purposes.
If the District approves a customer’s request for a hydrant meter, unless otherwise authorized, the District will install and will assess a fee of $100 if installed and removed during Normal Business hours and $165 if installed during Other hours.
30) Private Fire Protection
Customers requiring private fire protection should contact the District to ascertain the availability of fire service at their location. Fire service, if available, will be installed at the customer’s expense within the bounds of the public way or right-of-way. The fire service line, after installation, will be owned and maintained in the public way or right-of-way by the District. The District does not guarantee any quantity of water or pressure available through a fire protection service. The owner of such service shall determine, from time to time, the adequacy of supply through the fire service by conducting tests of the private system. Timely notice must be given the District so a representative of the District can be present to observe the test.
31) No Tampering With District Property
There shall be no tampering with District property. No valve, shut-off, hydrant, or standpipe, which is the property of the District, will be opened or closed or otherwise operated, by any person other than District authorized persons.
32) Commission Appeal
In the case of any disagreement or dispute regarding the application of any provision of these terms and conditions or in circumstances where the application of these terms and conditions appears unjust, either party may refer the matter to the Public Utilities Commission for resolution.
The Public Utilities Commission may grant exceptions to the provisions of these terms and conditions for good cause shown.
33) LOW-INCOME CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
33-A) General Program Description
The District is supporting, in conjunction with The Opportunity Alliance(OA), a program to provide financial assistance to low-income residential customers for the purpose of taking positive steps towards reducing water consumption to make water more affordable.
The District has authorized OA to administer a program to repair, replace or install plumbing fixtures and water saving devices with regard to the following:
- leaking or broken water pipes
- hot water tank
- kitchen faucets
- bathtub faucets
- shower heads
- outside faucets
- toilet dams
- low-flow devices
3. This program will be offered to all qualified residential customers of the District.
33-B) Program Participation Requirements
- A qualified residential customer must:
- Own and occupy a year-round residence within the District service area.
- Be low-income qualified, by showing evidence of having an annual household income that is equal to or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI) as defined by US HUD.
- Must demonstrate through a home audit provided by OA, a need for the program’s services.
33-C) General Provisions
- The dwelling unit owner must agree to leave in place at the premises any water saving measures installed under this program.
- OA will determine customer eligibility, complete a home audit, develop a remediation plan, subcontract work to be completed, and inspect completed work.
- Qualified applicants will be assisted on a first come, first served basis up to the allocated amount provided to the program by the District. Exceptions will be made at the discretion of OA for emergency situations that jeopardize health or safety.
- The District will fund this program on an annual basis and reserves the right to discontinue program support at any time.
- The District along with municipalities, OA Central Intake and Outreach staff, Human Service organizations, and the public at large, will refer homeowners to OA for qualification.
- All specific services provided by this program will be delivered to qualified participants at no cost to the participant.
34) DISCONNECTION PROCESS FOR OVERDUE COMBINED WATER AND MUNICIPAL SEWER BALANCES
The District, as sewer billing agent for participating municipalities, will issue a disconnection notice to delinquent customers that may result in the disconnection of water service pursuant to Section 34-D of these Terms and Conditions.
Service Classification - “Service classification” includes water and sewer services billed as residential, commercial, industrial, and governmental accounts.
Total Amount Due - “Total Amount Due” means the total water and sewer amount owed by a customer that has been properly billed.
Total Amount Overdue – For the purpose of issuing a disconnection notice, “Total Amount Overdue” means the total water and sewer amount billed to a customer that is greater than $200.00 and more than 50 days old. For the purpose of assessing a late fee, “Total Amount Overdue” means the water and sewer balance that has not been paid within 25 days of the bill postmark date, or 25 days from the electronic notification date of the e-bill.
Bills shall be issued in accordance with applicable sections of Public Utilities Commission Chapters, i.e. Chapters 660 and 870, and the Portland City Code, Section 24.
34-D) Disconnection and Reconnection:
A 14-day disconnection notice shall be issued to a delinquent customer when the Total Amount Overdue is greater than $200.00 and more than 50 days old, the account is not on an active payment arrangement, and the account is not on dispute. A 3 business day disconnection notice shall be issued for the Total Amount Due when a customer does not comply with the terms of the established payment arrangement and the account is not on dispute.
When a customer has received a 14 day disconnection notice and makes a partial payment that reduces the Total Amount Overdue to $200.00 or less, the customer will be subject to disconnection until the Total Amount Overdue is paid in full, or the customer makes a payment arrangement. When a customer has received a 3 business day disconnection notice due to a broken payment arrangement, and makes a partial payment on the installment amount, the customer is subject to disconnection until the installment amount is paid in full.
34-E) Payment Allocation:
In the event that a payment is received by the District which does not clearly indicate whether the payment is for water or sewer, the payment shall be applied to the oldest outstanding basic service bills.
34-F) Payment Arrangement:
The District shall offer a Regular Payment Arrangement to customers who cannot pay the Total Account Balance in accordance with Chapter 660 and these Terms and Conditions.
34-G) Dispute Resolution:
The District shall resolve disputes in accordance with Public Utilities Commission Regulations.
The District shall accept and respond to inquiries and complaints related to the amount or composition of charges. The appropriate municipality shall accept and respond to inquiries and complaints relating to the sewer collector system or the Municipality’s Sewer Ordinance.
35) Chapter 670 Credit for Water to Metered Customers and Municipal Fire Service Customers
In order to implement a credit for all customers pursuant to Chapter 670 of the PUC Rules, the District shall provide a one-time credit on all active customer bills mailed on or after July 3, 2000 until each customer receiving a bill during the month of July, 2000 has received the one-time credit. The amount of the credit shall be equal to 6.78% of the customer’s 1999 annual water net billings. If this one-time credit exceeds the total amount due on the July bill, the unused credit shall be applied to the customer’s future bills.
36) New Customer Activation Fee
The customer shall pay a $14.00 fee when the customer requests a change to an existing account causing an additional customer account record to be created.
37) New Main Extension Fee
An applicant requesting a main extension shall pay a $192.00 fee when the applicant submits the request for the main extension.
38) New Meter or Service Fee
An applicant requesting a new service shall pay a $58 fee when the applicant submits the request for the new service.
New customers shall pay the following fees when requesting a single service connection that is 2 inches or smaller:
|Size||Service Inspection||Water Sample (applies to 2" services only)||Water METER INSTALLATION (applies to 2" or smaller meters that are not installed in meter pits)|
2" or smaller
$63.00 + cost of meter
For applicants requesting multiple service connections, larger sized services or meters, meter installations in meter pits, or other special circumstances, the District shall charge the applicant the District’s actual cost of the work performed. The cost of the water meter is defined as the meter cost, ERT (remote reader) cost, typical plumbing fitting costs, and a $25.00 inventory overhead fee. For larger size services and meters and special circumstances, the District shall charge the customer the actual cost of installation.
39) Time Period for “Make-Up” Bills for Previously Unbilled Service Due to Unauthorized Use or Fraud
For residential and commercial accounts, the District may issue a “make-up” bill for service that was previously unbilled because of unauthorized use or fraud by the customer for service that occurred up to six (6) years before the issuance of the “make-up” bill.
40) Office Hours, Normal Business Hours, Other Hours and Emergency Hours
Office Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Office hours may change due to training, staffing, weather conditions, etc.
Normal Business Hours, for the purpose of charging reconnection and damaged meter fees, are 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.
Other Hours, for the purpose of charging reconnection and damaged meter fees, are 7:00 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, holidays, Saturday and Sunday.
Emergency Hours are 24 hours a day, seven days a week.