TRID’s Water Shut-Off Policy:
On September 29, 2018, Senate Bill 998 (Discontinuation of Residential Water Services) was approved by the Governor and became effective January 1, 2019. The purpose of the bill was to ensure that:
“When there is a delinquent bill, all Californians, regardless of whether they pay a water bill directly, should be treated fairly, and fair treatment include the ability to contest a bill, seek alternative payment schedules, and demonstrate medical need and severe economic hardship.”
TRID provides water service to 360 homes, and thus is subject to the requirements of Health and Safety Code section 116906.
First, TRID is delighted to report that we have never had to face the dilemma of shutting off water service to a customer due to non-payment.
Second, although we track the language of H&SC §116906 et seq., our mailing policies must necessarily deviate somewhat from the law as written. There is no home mail delivery to any home located within TRID’s service boundaries. TRID bills get sent to the address provided by our customer. For a year-round resident (or full-time tenant who is responsible for paying the water bill), this would usually be a post office box address; for the majority of our customers, who are second home-owners, this would usually be the address of their primary residence. Thus, TRID will mail any Notification of Delinquency to the billing address provided by the customer; will also telephone the number provided by the customer; will e-mail the customer, if the customer has provided an e-mail address; and will post the Notice of Delinquency on the property which receives water service.
Third, TRID bills are sent out in arrears on a quarterly basis: on January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1. For instance, the billing on January 1st covers water usage from the previous quarter (October, November and December). The billing notices request that payment be received within 30 days. Any Notice of Delinquency would be issued at least 60 days after the grace period for payment ends. Practically speaking, the Notice of Delinquency would be issued in conjunction with, or shortly after the next bill is released.
Here is the Delinquency Policy, which comports with H&SC §116906 et seq.:
The District shall not discontinue residential service for nonpayment until a payment by a customer has been delinquent for at least 60 days. No less than seven business days before discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment, the District shall contact the customer named on the account by telephone or written notice to the address provided by the customer, and by e-mail if the customer provided an e-mail address to the District.
When the District contacts the customer named on the account by telephone, it shall offer to provide the customer with the District’s written policy on discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment. The District shall offer to discuss options to avert discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment, including, but not limited to, alternative payment schedules, deferred payments, minimum payments, procedures for requesting amortization of the unpaid balance, and petition for bill review and appeal.
When the District contacts the customer named on the account by telephone, the written Notice of Delinquency and impending discontinuation shall be mailed to the customer of the residence to which the residential service is provided. If the customer’s address is not the address of the property to which residential service is provided, the notice also shall be posted to the address of the property to which residential service is provided, addressed to “Occupant.” The notice shall include, but is not limited to, all of the following information in a clear and legible format:
- The customer’s name, billing address, and service address.
- The amount of the delinquency.
- The date by which the payment or arrangement for payment is required in order
to avoid discontinuation of residential service.
- A description of the process to apply for an extension of time to pay the
- A description of the procedure to petition for bill review and appeal.
- 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, consistent with the written policies provided
pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 116906.
If the District is unable to make contact with the customer or an adult occupying the residence by telephone, and written notice is returned through the mail as undeliverable, the District shall make a good faith effort to visit the residence and leave, or make other arrangements for placement in a conspicuous place of, a notice of imminent discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment and the District’s policy for discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment.
If an adult at the residence appeals the water bill to the District or any other administrative or legal body to which such an appeal may be lawfully taken, the District shall not discontinue residential service while the appeal is pending.
The District shall not discontinue residential service for nonpayment if all of the following conditions are met:
- The customer, or a tenant of the customer, submits to the District the certification of a primary care provider, as that term is defined in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 14088 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, that discontinuation of residential service will be life threatening to, or pose a serious threat to the health and safety of, a resident of the premises where residential service is provided.
- The customer demonstrates that he or she is financially unable to pay for residential service with the the District’s normal billing cycle. The customer shall be deemed financially unable to pay for residential service with the District’s normal billing cycle if any member of the customer’s household is 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.
- The customer is willing to enter into an amortization agreement, alternative payment schedule, or a plan for deferred or reduced payment, consistent with the written policies provided pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 116906, which respect to all delinquent charges.
If the conditions listed above are met, the District shall offer the customer one or more of the following options:
- Amortization of the unpaid balance.
- Participation in an alternative payment schedule.
- A partial or full reduction of the unpaid balance financed without additional charges to other ratepayers.
- Temporary deferral of payment.
The District may choose which of the payment options described above the customer undertakes and may set the parameters of that payment option. Ordinarily, the repayment option offered should result in repayment of any remaining outstanding balance within 12 months. The District may grant a longer repayment period if it finds the longer payment period is necessary to avoid undue hardship to the customer based on the circumstances of the individual case.
Residential service may be discontinued no sooner than 5 business days after the District posts a final notice of intent to disconnect service in a prominent and conspicuous location at the property under either of the following circumstances:
- The customer fails to comply with an amortization agreement, an alternative payment schedule, or a deferral or reduction in payment plan for delinquent charges for 60 days or more.
- While undertaking an amortization agreement, an alternative payment schedule, or a deferral or reduction in payment plan for delinquent charges, the customer does not pay his or her current residential service charges for 60 days or more.
The district shall make a reasonable good faith effort to contact an adult person residing at the premises of the Customer by telephone or personal contact at least 48 hours prior to any termination of service, except that, whenever telephone or personal contact cannot be accomplished, the District shall give, by mail, in person, or by posting in a conspicuous location at the premises, a notice of termination of service, at least 48 hours prior to termination. Every notice of termination of service pursuant to this section shall include the items of information in the paragraphs above.