BBWSD mulls water shut-off policy

Published on Wed, Jul 20, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Chronic late payments from the owners of multi-family residences have prompted Birch Bay Water and Sewer District staff to consider changing the district’s water shut-off policy.

The policy should provide more options when it comes to late payments from multi-family residences, such as trailer parks, said district assistant manager Dan Eisses at the district’s board of commissioners meeting July 14. Currently, customers are allowed two late bill payments before a shut-off notice is sent out. After the notice is received, the customer has 15 days to either pay or make arrangements to pay. After that point, water is shut off.

After a spate of late payments from a trailer park in Birch Bay, Eisses considered the unintended effects of water shut-off on the park’s residents, who have no control over how the park’s owners pay the bills. The owners have always paid eventually, Eisses said, but payments have been late seven times over the past several years.

“This issue would have come up sooner if more larger accounts did this,” Eisses said.

District officials are now asking whether the consequences of late payments should be the same for multi-family residences where the individual residents are not responsible for the water bill. However, without the threat of shut-off, unpaid bills can rack up, costing the district money.

For any residence to avoid shut-off, the owner must pay the bill or meet with the district board of commissioners to request more time to pay. In the past, Eisses said this particular Birch Bay trailer park has either requested more time and paid later or commissioners decided not to shut off the water without meeting with the owners.

Though commissioners did not reach a decision at their July 14 meeting, they agreed the water supply to multi-family residences should not be shut off due to late bill payments. Commissioners discussed the possibility of deleting the shut-off option if an owner is responsible for the homes of 50 or more families.