Standards for Water Utilities (815-RICR-40-00-01)
815-RICR-40-00-1 ACTIVE RULE
1.1 Authority and Purpose
A.Authority. These rules are issued pursuant to the authority granted by R.I. Gen. Laws § 39-3-33, and shall apply to any person, firm, corporation or other entity now or hereafter engaged as a public utility in the business of furnishing water to the public (hereinafter, “water utility”) within the State of Rhode Island.
B.Effect on Prior Rules. These Rules & Regulations replace the existing Division Rules and Regulations Prescribing Standards for Water Utilities, in Division Docket #929, Division Report and Order #8090 of January 31, 1966, effective March 1, 1966, and shall be applied prospectively only. The existing compilation of Rules & Regulations is hereby rescinded upon the effective date of this document.
C.Amendment or Waiver of Rules. Upon its own motion, or upon application, and for good cause shown, the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers may modify, suspend, or repeal the provisions of any rule herein. Application may be made to the Division for the modification of any rule or for temporary or permanent waiver from its provision, provided, however, that no water utility shall submit application for such modification or waiver without submitting therewith a full and complete justification for such action.
D.Penalty for Violations. The Division of Public Utilities and Carriers may impose a penalty as provided by R.I. Gen Laws § 39-2-8 upon any water utility which violates:
2.an Order issued by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers; or
3.R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 through 39-5.
A.“Actual Read” means any meter reading taken by a water utility employee, or the employee of a contractor working on behalf of a water utility, through use of an AMR (or ARB or other electronic remote reading technology) or by a water utility employee visually inspecting the actual meter.
B.“Administrator” means the Administrator of the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers.
C.“AMR” means an automated meter reading device.
D.“Commission” means the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission.
E.“Curb Stop” means the company’s shutoff valve located at the service connection.
F.“Customer” means any person, firm, company, association, or governmental unit of the state supplied with water service by any water utility. The customer is liable for payment to the water utility for the cost of the water supplied to the customer’s property by the water utility for use by the customer or the customer’s tenant(s), as applicable.
G.“Division” means the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers.
H.“Estimated Read” means all types of reads other than an actual read, including those submitted by electronic means (phone, e-mail, or other internet-type communication) or in writing by customers.
I.“Inactive” means a service line where water service to the customer has been discontinued but the service line has not been abandoned.
J.“Main” means a water pipe, owned, operated and maintained by a water utility, which is used for the purpose of transmission or distribution of water but is not a water service pipe.
K.“Meter” means a device, instrument, or any attached device, used by a water utility to measure a quantity of water for billing purposes.
L.“Non-Registering Meter” means a meter that does not register the consumption of water. Some companies refer to this as a “DR meter”.
M.“Public Utility” is as defined in R.I. Gen Laws § 39-1-2.
N.“Service Connection” means the point of connection of the customer’s piping with the curb stop owned by the water utility.
O.“Service Pipe” shall mean the connection from the water utility's mains to the curb stop, and the customer's connection from the curb stop to the meter, and includes all of the pipe, fittings and valves necessary to make the connections.
P.“Water Service” shall mean the furnishing of water to a customer in this state by a water utility.
Q.“Water Utility” is any person, firm, corporation or other entity now or hereafter engaged as a public utility in the business of furnishing water service to customers within the State of Rhode Island.
A.Filing of Rate Schedules. All rates, tolls and charges by a water utility shall be filed, posted, and available for public inspection in accordance with the provisions of R.I. Gen. Laws § 39-3-10. In addition, each water utility shall post this information on its website.
B.Information to Customers
1.Each water utility shall, upon request, provide its customers with such information and reasonable assistance as will help them to select the best use of service at the most advantageous rate. However, the ultimate responsibility for the selection of the best use of service at the most advantageous rate will rest with the customer.
2.Each water utility shall, upon request, explain to its customers the method of reading meters and calculating the bill.
C.Deposits/Interest. A water utility, to protect against loss, may require a deposit before rendering service to any customer. This deposit shall not be more than the highest actual billing period’s usage of a prior customer or the highest estimated billing period of the new customer if a prior customer does not exist. Interest shall be paid on deposits in accordance with applicable approved rate schedules or the terms and conditions of the water utility. Deposits plus accrued interest thereon, less any amount due the water utility, will be refunded upon termination of service. The water utility may return a deposit prior to the termination. A customer may request a return of deposit prior to the termination of service if the customer has established a good payment history and the water utility agrees to the return of deposit. When an account is terminated, and a deposit or portion thereof is applied against an account that has been terminated, interest shall cease to accrue on the balance at the date of termination.
D.Measurement of Service. All water sold by a water utility shall be upon the basis of metered volume sales and/or a fixed rate.
E.Liability for Water Charges Including Past Due Charges
1.Liability for Water Charges Generally. The customer of a water utility shall be liable for the payment of the tariffed rates fixed by the water utility for the use of water furnished by that water utility to the customer along with any applicable taxes and fees.
2.Liens on Property For Water Charges. If authorized by statute for a water utility (e.g., R.I. Gen. Laws § 39-15-12), the rates assessed against a customer for the water delivered to the customer for consumption may constitute a lien on the property to which the water was delivered. The lien shall arise and attach as provided by the laws applicable to that specific water utility.
3.Assessments or Adjustments of Past-Due Charges. If any water utility becomes aware that one of its customers has received water for use from that water utility but has either not been billed for the use of that water, or has been for any other reason improperly charged, the water utility shall calculate the appropriate charges for the period in question and present those charges to the customer. These charges shall be in addition to any charges accruing for current use of the water by the customer. However, the water utility shall not be allowed to collect new or corrected charges for past use that are made more than three (3) years from the date on which the bill for those charges for use should have been properly presented to the customer.
F.Meter Readings and Bill Forms
1.Each meter register shall indicate clearly the volume units registered and size of the meter.
2.All meters will be read at regular intervals (but no fewer than two actual reads each year) and on approximately the corresponding day of each meter reading period. In service areas that do not utilize AMR devices (or ARB or other electronic remote reading technology), the water utility must verify meter reads phoned or mailed in by the customer at least once every six (6) months. Bills based on estimated reads shall not exceed six (6) consecutive months on any residential, commercial or industrial account.
3.Each water utility shall keep an accurate account of all charges for service billed each customer and shall maintain records for ten (10) years showing information from which each bill rendered may be readily computed.
4.Bills shall be rendered at regular intervals and shall show:
a.the date of the current meter reading;
b.the meter reading (the amount or quantity of service for the billing period);
c.the type of meter reading (i.e., actual or estimated);
d.the billing period;
e.a list of itemized charges; and
f.consumption history (the amount or quantity of service in the past four billing periods). Provided, however, for any water utility presently unable to satisfy §§ 1.3(F)(4)(c) and (f) of this Part above, due to billing software limitations, that water utility shall have until January 1, 2010 to satisfy these requirements.
5.The billing date and the postmark date on the bill shall not vary by more than ten (10) business days.
G.Complaints of Customers. Each water utility shall make a full and prompt investigation of customer complaints made either directly to the water utility or through the Division. A record of all complaints received shall be kept for at least two years. This record shall show the name and address of the complainant, the date and character of the complaint, and the disposition made thereof.
H.Termination of Service
1.By customer. A customer must give at least five (5) business days notice of his/her intention to terminate service, and shall be responsible for all charges until expiration of such notice period but shall not be responsible for any charges thereafter unless service is reestablished by the customer.
2.By water utility.
a.For non-payment of bills - In accordance with the applicable terms and conditions of service, a water utility may require that bills be paid within a specified time after presentation. Thirty (30) days from the date the bill is rendered, service may be terminated for the non-payment of bills, provided the customer has been given written notice at least ten (10) days prior to the date of termination. In lieu of termination or upon restoration the water utility may require payments at less than normal billing intervals. All terminations of water service for nonpayment of bills shall be done in accordance with the Rhode Island Public Utility Commission’s rules governing the termination of services for non-payment.
b.For violation of terms and conditions of service- No water utility shall terminate service to a customer for violation of any term or condition of service without written notice of at least ten (10) days, advising the customer specifically as to which term or condition of service has been violated and precisely how it was violated, except that service may be terminated immediately when the violation of the term or condition of service is such as to endanger life or property.
c.For theft of water service - A water utility may terminate service without notice whenever a theft of the service by the customer is detected.
d.For lack of meter accessibility - A water utility may terminate service with written notice, of at least ten (10) days prior to termination, advising the customer of the water utility’s inability to access the customer’s premises for purposes of reading, installing, repairing, or replacing the water meters and/or meter reading devices. The customer shall be responsible for providing accessibility to the above meter and equipment.
e.Charge for restoring services - If service is terminated under paragraphs §§ 1.3(H)(2)(a), (b), (c) or (d) of this Part, above, the water utility may make a reasonable charge for restoring the service, provided such charge is specified in the water utility’s approved tariff.
1.4QUALITY OF WATER SERVICE
A.Water Pressure Requirements
1.Normal Operating Pressure. Each water utility shall maintain normal operating pressures of not less than 20 pounds per square inch (psi) nor more than 125 psi at the service connection.
a.Variations in pressure under normal operating conditions shall not exceed 50% of the average operating pressure; however, under no circumstances shall normal operating pressures fall below 20 psi.
b.Pressure variations outside the limits specified will not be considered a violation of this rule when such:
(1)Arise from unusual or extraordinary conditions; or,
(2)Arise from the operation of customers' equipment.
B.Interruptions of Service
1.Generally. Each water utility shall use all reasonable means to avoid interruptions to service, but should interruption occur, service shall be reestablished within the shortest time practicable, consistent with safety. When an emergency interruption of service affects any portion of the fire protection system, the water utility shall promptly endeavor to notify the local Fire Chief or other public official responsible for fire protection of such interruption and of subsequent restoration of normal service.
2.Unplanned Interruptions. Each water utility shall keep a record of all unplanned interruptions to service of over thirty (30) minutes in duration in any portion of their distribution system. The record shall include the date and time of the interruption, approximate number of customers affected, the date and time of service restoration, the cause of such interruption when known, and steps taken to prevent its recurrence. Reports shall be retained by the water utility for a period of two (2) years and made available to the Division for inspection upon request.
3.Scheduled Interruptions. When service is interrupted to perform scheduled work on mains or equipment, such work shall be done at a time causing minimum inconvenience to customers, consistent with the circumstances. Customers seriously affected by such interruption shall be notified in advance, if practicable. Where any main supplying public fire protection service is scheduled to be shut off for maintenance or other work, the water utility shall notify the local Fire Chief or other official responsible for fire protection at least forty-eight (48) hours in advance, stating the approximate time and anticipated duration. In addition, the local Fire Chief or other official responsible for fire protection shall be notified promptly upon restoration of service.
4.Notification to Division. All notifications to the Division of service interruptions shall be made in accordance with the criteria set out in Appendix A.
1.Notification to Division. When matters of water quality are under review by the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH), the Division shall be notified thereof in writing by the water utility. A final report shall be submitted by the water utility to the Division within a reasonable time after final disposition of the matter.
2.Notification to Public. When matters of water quality and DOH regulations necessitate notification to the public, the water utility shall effectuate such notification as expeditiously as possible and by all reasonable means available. Timely and direct notification shall also be provided to the appropriate municipal officials in the cities and towns affected, the Division, and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency. The water utility may rely on the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency to provide notification to the public (and appropriate municipal officials) if the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency determines that it capable of effectuating the timely notifications and accepts that responsibility.
1.5METER INSTALLATION, ACCURACY AND TESTING
A.Inspection of Meters Removed from Service. All meters removed from service that are to be reinstalled shall be inspected for correctness of register.
1.All meters shall be in good mechanical condition and of adequate size and design for the type of service that they measure.
2.Each water utility shall adopt a standard method of meter installation. This standard method of meter installation shall be described in writing as simply and clearly as possible, using drawings where necessary to illustrate the description, to ensure that each customer can understand the requirements for a standard meter installation. Copies of the descriptions of standard meter installations shall be made available to prospective customers and contractors or others engaged in the business of installing water pipes and water meters.
C.Testing and Calibration of Meters
1.Generally. All meters shall be tested and calibrated in accordance with the requirements set forth herein. No meter shall be placed in service or permitted to remain in service if the error of registration, determined in accordance with § 1.5(C)(3) of this Part, below, exceeds 2%. At the option of the water utility the larger size meters may be tested in place after installation.
2.Test Flows. All meters shall be tested at the three rates of flow specified in Table I, below. No meter shall be installed which registers less than 98% of the minimum test flow.
3.Determination of Error. If the meter error of registration at any of the rates of flow specified in Table I, below, is less than 98% or greater than 102% of the actual flow, the meter fails and may not be installed or used unless recalibrated.
4.Sealing of Meter. Upon completion of adjustment and test of any meter under the provisions of these rules, the water utility shall affix thereto a suitable seal in such a manner that the adjustment of registration of the meter cannot be tampered with without breaking the seal.
D.Test Schedules for Meters
1.Periodic Tests of Meters in Service. All meters in service will be tested or replaced in accordance with the schedule set out in Table II, below:
Periodic Meter Testing Schedule
Size of Meter (Inches)
Maximum Interval Between Tests or Replacement
5/8” – 2”
3” and Larger
a.Tests Performed by Water Utility at Customer’s Request. When requested by a customer, each water utility shall:
(1)test the accuracy of the customer's meter within thirty (30) days from the time the request is made, and
(2)extend to the customer an offer to allow the customer or the customer’s designated representative to be present for the testing.
3.At the customer’s request, the Division or the Division’s designated representative may observe the test. When requested to test a meter by a customer as herein provided, the water utility shall not knowingly remove, interfere with, or adjust the meter to be tested outside the presence of the customer without the written consent of the customer, and approval by the Division. A report giving the name of the customer requesting the test, the date of the request, the location, the type, make, size, the serial number of the meter, the date tested, and the result of the test shall be supplied to such customer within fifteen (15) days after completion of the test.
a.Meters that are not due for a periodic test. If the meter the customer requests to have tested is not overdue for its periodic test, the water utility may require a fee for such a test if allowed by its tariff. If upon testing the meter is found to be over-registering by more than 2%, the testing fee shall be promptly refunded. If the meter is not found to be over registering by as much as 2%, the utility shall retain the testing fee.
b.Meters that are due for a periodic test. If the meter the customer requests to have tested has exceeded the due date for its periodic test, the water utility may not require a fee for such a test.
4.Tests Requested by Division. Upon application to the Division by a customer, a test will be made of the customer's meter by the Division’s authorized representative as soon as practicable. When notified of an application submitted to the Division by a customer for a meter test as herein provided, the water utility shall not knowingly remove, interfere with, or adjust the meter to be tested without the written consent of the customer, and approval by the Division. The customer shall pay a deposit for this test, and the deposit shall be retained or returned, just as for a water utility test as described in § 1.5 (D)(2)(a)((1)) of this Part.
5.Record of Tests. The meter technician or other person testing the meter shall make a complete record of all tests, adjustments, and other data sufficient to allow all of the test results and calculations for that meter test to be verified. Such record shall include: the identifying number of the meter, the type of the meter, the date and kind of tests made, the reading of the meter before making any test, the error as found at each test, and, if repaired, the accuracy of the meter after the final test.
6.Retention. Records of periodic tests of meters will be retained by the water utility for inspection by the Division for a minimum of ten (10) years. All meters that are changed out, or removed from service for any reason, shall be retained for inspection by the Division for a minimum of six (6) months.
E.Customer's Bill Adjustments
1.Calculation of Error. In meter tests directed by the Division, or performed by the water utility at the request of a customer, the correctness of registration of the meter and its performance in service for billing purposes shall be determined by averaging the meter flow rates across all the intermediate and high flow rates. The percentage of registration shall be taken as the algebraic sum of the errors at the median and maximum rates of test flow, as set forth in § 1.5(C)(3) of this Part (Table I), divided by two. Any adjustment of charges made in accordance with this rule shall be based on the average error thus derived.
a.Fast Meters. Whenever as the result of a test made by the water utility or the Division at the request of the customer, a meter is found to register in excess of 102% of the correct amount, the water utility shall refund to the customer an amount equal to the charge for the excess billed for the previous twelve (12) months or for a period equal to one-half of the time elapsed since the last test or replacement, whichever is the shorter period. However, if the time when the error first developed or occurred can be definitely fixed, the amount to be refunded is to be based thereon.
b.Slow Meters. Whenever as the result of a test made by the water utility or the Division at the request of the customer, a meter is found to register less than 98% of the correct amount, the water utility may make a charge to the customer for the unbilled amount supplied for the previous twelve (12) months, or for a period equal to one-half of the time elapsed since the last test or replacement, whichever is the shorter period. However, if the time when the error first developed or occurred can be definitely fixed, the amount to be refunded is to be based thereon, subject to the three (3) year limitation set out in § 1.5(E)(3) of this Part.
(1)Non AMR Meters. If a meter without an AMR is found which does not register, the water utility may make a charge to the customer for the unbilled amount that is based upon information recorded prior or subsequent to the period of nonregistration, and any other pertinent information supplied by the customer or known to the water utility, subject to the three (3) year limitation set out in § 1.5(E)(3) of this Part.
(2)AMR Meters. If a meter is equipped with an AMR is found not registering, the water utility may make a charge to the customer for the unbilled amount for only the twelve (12) months immediately preceding the date on which the corrected bill is sent.
F.Test Facilities and Equipment
1.Test Facilities. Each water utility furnishing metered water service shall either provide the necessary standard facilities, instruments and other equipment for testing meters in compliance with these rules, or shall enter into satisfactory arrangements for tests of its meters by another water utility or agency equipped to test meters in compliance with these rules, subject to approval by the Division.
2.Shop Equipment. The meter test shop, insofar as practicable, shall simulate the actual service conditions. It shall be provided with the necessary fittings, including a quick-acting valve for controlling the starting and stopping of the test, and a device for regulating the flow of water through the meter under test. The accuracy of the test equipment and test procedures shall be sufficient to enable shop tests of meters with an error not to exceed 0.5 of 1%.
3.Test Measurement Standards. Measuring devices for tests of meters shall consist of calibrated tanks for volumetric measurements, tanks mounted upon scales for weight measurement, or standard meters.
a.Volumetric Tanks. When a volumetric tank is used, the volumetric tank shall be certified by the State or Local Sealer of Weights and Measures.
b.Weight Standards. When a weight standard is used the scales shall be tested and certified at least once every year by the State or Local Sealer of Weights and Measures, and a record maintained of the results of such test.
c.Size of Basic Standards. Basic standards for meter tests shall be of sufficient capacity to insure accuracy of the test.
1.6EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES
A.Standard Practice. In determining standard practice, the Division will be guided by the provisions of the American Water Works Association standards and the Rhode Island Department of Health.
B.Construction and Maintenance. Each water utility shall construct, install, operate and maintain its plant, structures, equipment and mains in accordance with standard practice as defined in § 1.6(A) of this Part above, and in such manner to best accommodate the public, and to prevent interference with service furnished by other public utilities, insofar as practical.
1.Dead Ends. Insofar as practicable the water utility shall design its distribution system so as to avoid dead ends on its mains. Where dead ends are unavoidable the water utility shall provide hydrants or “blow offs” for the purpose of flushing the mains. Mains with dead ends shall be flushed as often as necessary to maintain the proper quality of the water. Records shall be kept of all flushings of mains, showing the date, place and duration, and such records used as a guide in determining the necessary frequency of flushing of the same mains thereafter.
2.Segmentation of System. Valves shall be provided at reasonable intervals in the mains to facilitate repairs and minimize interruptions of service.
3.Grid Systems. Whenever feasible, the distribution system shall be laid out in a properly segmented grid so that in case of breaks or repairs the interruptions of service to the customers can be kept to a minimum number.
4.Fire Protection Service. Specification, location, installation and the responsibility for the maintenance of fire hydrants, public and private fire protection facilities, connecting mains, and their ownership may be subject to negotiation between the water utility and the applicant. Fire hydrants and public and private protection facilities shall be installed in conformity to the requirements of the water utility and when owned by the water utility shall be subject to such conditions as the Division may determine based upon the compensation received for this service. Hydrants maintained by the water utility shall be inspected and operated at least once every eighteen (18) months, and shall be checked for freezing as often as necessary to ensure that they are functioning properly, unless the responsibility for inspecting and operating the fire hydrant is assumed by the local fire department or other appropriate entity. Where this is the case, the water utility retains responsibility for repairing or replacing any fire hydrant out of service within seven (7) days of such hydrant being reported out of service. A record of each hydrant maintained by the water utility shall be retained showing the size, type, location, date of inspection and flushing and the results thereof.
5.Valves. Each water utility shall periodically inspect the valves on its distribution system. A record of each valve shall be kept showing the size, type, location date of inspection and the results thereof. These records shall be kept for a five (5) year period.
6.Service Pipes. The minimum size of the service pipe shall not be less than ¾ inch nominal size. Each service pipe shall be provided with an individual shutoff prior to the meter on that service pipe.
7.Inspection of Service Pipe. In the installation of a service pipe, the customer shall not install any tee or branch connection and, if required, shall leave the trench open and pipe uncovered until it is inspected by the water utility and building official and shown to be free from any irregularity or defect.
C.Disinfection of Facilities. Disinfection of facilities shall be as approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health.
1.7RECORDS AND REPORTS
A.Station Records. Each water utility shall keep sufficient records of the operation of its pumping, filtering, chlorinating and other units to show the characteristics and performance of each.
B.Water Supply Measurement Records
1.Measuring Devices. Each public water utility shall install a suitable measuring device, or otherwise determine quantity, at each point at which water enters the public water utility's distribution system in order that a record may be maintained of the quantity of water entering the distribution system at each such point.
2.Water Supply Records. At least once each month the quantity of water entering the public water utility's distribution system shall be determined for each point of entry. Twelve-month totals by sources shall be recorded and transmitted to the Division in the utility's annual report to the Division.
C.System Maps. Each water utility shall have on file at its principal office located within the state a suitable map, maps or drawings showing the following:
1.Size, character, and location of all mains, including hydrants and valves.
2.Size and location of each service connection, where practicable. In lieu of showing service locations on maps, a card record or other suitable means may be used.
3.Layout of all principal pumping stations, filter and chlorinating plants to show size, location and character of all major equipment, pipe lines, connections, valves and other equipment used.
DMeter Records. Each water utility shall keep numerically arranged and properly classified records giving for each meter owned or used by the water utility for any purpose, the identification number, date of purchase, name of manufacturer, serial number, type, rating, and the name and address of each customer on whose premises the meter has been in service, with date of installation and removal. These records shall be maintained in a manner such that the date of the last test is readily ascertainable.
E.Preservation of Records. All records required by these rules shall be preserved by the water utility for a period of two (2) years unless otherwise designated herein or by the Division's Regulations Governing the Preservation of Records. Such records shall be kept within the State of Rhode Island at the office or offices of the water utility and shall be open at all reasonable hours for examination by the Division or its representatives.
F.Reports to Division. The water utility shall furnish to the Division, at such times and in such form as the Division may require, the results of any required costs and summaries of any required records. The water utility shall also furnish the Division with any information concerning the water utility's facilities or operations which the Division may request and need for determining rates or judging the practices of the water utility.
A.Safety Instructions. Each water utility shall comply with all applicable State and Federal safety regulations.
B.Resuscitation. Each water utility periodically shall instruct its employees engaged in electrical work in the practice and use of accepted rules for resuscitation from electrical shock. Copies of such rules shall be furnished to each such employee. Electrical work as used herein shall be construed to mean work on all live electric conductors and equipment.
C.Accidents. Each water utility shall report to the Division as soon as possible after each accident occurring in connection with the operation of its property, facilities or service, wherein any person shall have been killed or admitted to a hospital, or whereby any property damage shall have been caused. The first report may be preliminary, but, if so, shall be followed later by as full a statement as possible of the cause and details of the accident and the precautions taken, if any, to prevent recurrence.
D.Division Inspection. The Division will from time to time inspect the works and system of each water utility and the manner in which it has conformed to the rules and regulations herein contained.
|Title||815||Division of Public Utilities and Carriers|
|Part||1||Standards for Water Utilities (815-RICR-40-00-01)|
|Type of Filing||Periodic Refile|
R.I. Gen. Laws § 39-3-33
Purpose and Reason:
This rule is being refiled by the agency pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-35-4.1. No changes were made to the text of this rule.