Disconnection and reconnection procedures
Specifications of the conditions of termination and renewal of water provision.
Procedures for disconnection and reconnection specify the conditions for the termination/renewal of water provision, in particular due to non-payment of bills, bypasses of water meters and water theft. Procedures should also include transparent prices for connection and reconnection.
PURPOSE & LINK TO INTEGRITY
Clear procedures and pricing for disconnection and reconnection serve several purposes:
- They inform customers transparently about their rights, but also their duties.
- They ensure that all customers – whether households or commercial users – are treated equally.
- They support staff in fulfilling their duties (i.e. to justify a water disconnection), and reduce the risk for fraud and corruption (e.g. staff colluding with customers to illegally reconnect water, accepting bribes to be reconnected etc.).
- They reduce revenue losses for utilities, as they can disconnect and reconnect customers more efficiently.
- Does your organization have standard operating procedures or job descriptions in place that the dis- and reconnection process has to be aligned with? (See also tools Standard operating procedures and Job descriptions)
Procedures should stipulate in response to which events the utility may disconnect a costumer. This could include the following events:1
- Non-payment of bills more than 14 days in arrears, provided that the utility issues a 14-day notice to pay in its bill to consumers
- Unauthorised interference with or diversion of use of the utility service.
- Unauthorised use or theft of water
- Refusal to grant access at reasonable times to equipment installed upon the premises of the consumer for the purpose of inspection, meter reading or maintenance
- Failure to reimburse the utility for repairs to or replacement of the utility’s property used to supply service, when such repairs or replacements are necessitated by negligence or deliberate acts on the part of the consumer
- Misrepresentation of identity for the purpose of obtaining service.
- Actions adversely affecting the safety of any consumer, or the integrity of the utility’s water and/or sewerage systems
- Any other reason identified by the utility approved by the regulator and notified to the consumer.
Utilities must put in place a full escalation process before disconnecting a customer. This process will include:2
- Contacting and notifying the customer to inform them that they are in arrears (e.g. by telephone and in writing).
- Providing information on any options the customer has to conduct the payment.
- Providing contact details for customers wishing to enter into a payment plan or, where appropriate, in the case of domestic customers, how to arrange a pre-payment meter or budget controller.
- A utility may develop different escalation processes for domestic and non-domestic customers should they wish. The process for each customer category must be clearly set out.
However, there are also situations in which termination of water provision is prohibited. These include: 1
- Failure in payment for service by a previous occupant of the premises unless a filial or professional relationship with the previous occupant is shown
- Failure to pay for service or merchandise other than the provision of water or wastewater services provided by the utility
- Failure to pay charges not properly reflected on a utility bill
- Failure to pay disputed charges, until the utility has received a ruling in its favour in accordance with dispute resolution mechanisms in these regulations.
Where a disconnected customer has reached a settlement with its utility (through a payment plan or payment in full), the customer shall be entitled to be reconnected under the standard network terms and conditions offered by the utility including, where appropriate, the provision of a security bond/deposit or other such measure that is reasonably required to ensure that disconnection for non-payment will not occur in the future.2
KEY GUIDING DOCUMENTS
CER, no year, Code of Practice on Disconnection, Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), Ireland, http://www.cer.ie/docs/000060/cer10191.pdf, accessed 07.12.2015
WASREB, no year, Model Water services Regulations, Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB), Kenya, Download Water Service Regulations, accessed 07.12.2015
Plainview Water District, 2013, Procedures for Service Disconnections, Plainview Water District, USA
- WASREB, no year, Model Water services Regulations, Water Services Regulatory Board (WASREB), Kenya, Download Water Service Regulations, accessed 07.12.2015
- CER, no year, Code of Practice on Disconnection, Commission for Energy Regulation (CER), Ireland, http://www.cer.ie/docs/000060/cer10191.pdf, accessed 07.12.2015