Customer Service (835-RICR-20-00-2)
2.1 Purpose and Authority
These Rules and Regulations shall be referred to as Customer Services Rules and Regulations. The Customer Services Rules and Regulations are intended to ensure the proper billing, dispute resolution, and collection of the sewer use fees of the Narragansett Bay Commission ("NBC"). The following Customer Services Rules and Regulations are adopted by the NBC pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 46-25, as amended, creating and organizing the NBC. In the event of future wastewater facility acquisitions and/or annexations to the NBC, the Customer Services Rules and Regulations shall become incorporated by reference and binding thereon, and all previous Customer Services Rules and Regulations of said facility shall be abolished.
NBC is authorized, created and established as a public corporation of the State of Rhode Island, having a distinct legal and fiscal existence from State government, with powers as set forth in R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 46-25, 46-25.1 and 46-25.2, as amended, for the purposes of acquiring, planning, constructing, extending, improving, operating and maintaining publicly owned sewage treatment facilities in the District as specifically defined therein. All users, whether directly or indirectly connected to the NBC's facilities, shall pay sewer use fees. Such fees shall include, but not be limited to, residential and non-residential consumption and fixed fees, pretreatment permit fees, connection permit fees, sewer back-up removal fees, septic tank waste discharge fees, surcharges and other miscellaneous fees, charges and assessments as may be approved in accordance with the NBC's governing legislation. All sewer use fees shall be applicable throughout the entire District served by the NBC and shall be in accordance with rates and fees approved by the Public Utilities Commission pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended.
A. "Act" or "the Act" means the Narragansett Bay Commission Act, R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 46-25, 46-25.1 and 46-25.2, as amended.
B. "Authorized employees" or "Agents of the Commission" means a person who, by reason of his or her general position, contract, or job description with the NBC, has specific duties and responsibilities to perform on behalf of the NBC.
C. "Authorized representative of user":
1. If the user is a corporation, "authorized representative" means:
a. The president, a vice-president, secretary, or treasurer of the corporation in charge of a principal business function, or any other person who performs similar policy or decision-making functions for the corporation, or
b. The manager of one or more manufacturing, production, or operation facilities employing more than two hundred fifty (250) persons or having gross annual sales or expenditures exceeding twenty-five (25) million dollars, if the authority to sign documents has been assigned or delegated to the manager in accordance with corporate procedures.
2. If the user is a partnership, association, or sole proprietorship, an "authorized representative" means a general partner or the proprietor.
3. If the user is an agent of or representing federal, state, or local governments, an "authorized representative" means a director or highest official appointed or designated to oversee the operation and performance of the activities of the government facility.
4. The individuals described in §§ 2.3(C)(1) through (3) of this Part above may designate another authorized representative if said authorization is submitted to the NBC in writing and specifies the individual or position responsible for the overall operation of the facility from which the discharge originates or having overall responsibility for environmental matters of the company or governmental facility.
D. "Biochemical oxygens demand" or "BOD" means the quantity of oxygen utilized in the biochemical oxidation of organic matter under standard laboratory procedure for five (5) consecutive days at twenty (20) degrees centigrade expressed in terms of weight and concentration (milligrams per liter (mg/I)).
E. "Biologicals" means preparations made from living organisms and their products, including vaccines, cultures, etc., intended for use in diagnosing, immunizing, or treating humans or animals or in research pertaining thereto.
F. "Building drain" means that part of the lowest horizontal piping within a building that carries water, wastewater, or stormwater to a building sewer.
G. "Building sewer" means the extension from the building drain to the public sewer or other place of disposal. Also referred to as "house connection."
H. "Chemical oxygen demand" or "COD" means a measure of the amount of oxygen required to oxidize organic and oxidizable inorganic compounds in water.
I. "Color" means the optical density at the visual wavelength of maximum absorption, relative to distilled water, one hundred (100%) transmittance is equivalent to zero (0.0) optical density.
J. "Combined sewer" means a sewer intended to receive and convey both wastewater and surface runoff from storms.
K. "Discharge" means the introduction of water, wastewater, and/or pollutants into the NBC's facilities from any source.
M. "Direct connection" means the connection of a building sewer directly to a sewer owned by the NBC.
N. "Executive director" means the Executive Director of the Narragansett Bay Commission or his or her designee.
O. "Facility" or "Facilities" (See "Wastewater facilities" definition).
P. "Garbage" means, but is not limited to, the wastes resulting from the handling, preparation, cooking and serving of food, and from the handling, storage, and sale of produce.
Q. "Indirect connection" means a building sewer connection that is not a direct connection and whose wastewater discharge shall, notwithstanding the passage in its normal course through other sewers or conduits, ultimately discharge in whole or in part through the NBC's sewers.
R. "May" is permissive.
S. "Medical waste" means any solid waste that is generated in the diagnosis, treatment (e.g., provision of medical services), or immunization of human beings or animals, in research pertaining thereto, or in the production or testing of biologicals.
T. "Municipality" means any city, town, state authority, or sewer district that discharges wastewater into the sewers owned by the NBC.
U. "Narragansett Bay Commission" or "NBC" for the purposes of this Part shall be construed to mean the Narragansett Bay Commission in its capacity as a public corporation or acting through its authorized employees and agents.
V. "Owner" or "Operator" means any person who owns, leases, operates, controls, or supervises a source.
W. "Person" means any individual, partnership, co-partnership, firm, company, corporation, association, joint stock company, trust, estate, municipality, any local, state or federal agency, or any other legal entity, or their legal representatives, agents, or assigns.
X. "pH" means the logarithm (to the base 10) of the reciprocal of the hydrogen ion concentration in moles per liter (m/l) of solution. Neutral wastewaters are numerically equal to seven (7), the number increases to show increasing basicity and decreases to show acidity.
Y. "Pollutant" means any dredged spoil, solid waste, incinerator residue, sewage, garbage, sewage sludge, munitions, medical wastes, chemicals wastes, industrial wastes, biological materials, radioactive materials, heat, wrecked or discarded equipment, rock, sand, cellar dirt, and agricultural and industrial waste that affects the characteristics of wastewater (i.e., pH, temperature, TSS, turbidity, color, BOD, COD, toxicity, odor).
Z. "Pretreatment" or "Treatment" means the reduction or elimination of pollutant properties in wastewater or their alteration to a less harmful state thereby rendering them less harmful to the facilities prior to or in lieu of discharging or introducing such pollutants into the NBC's facilities. The elimination, reduction, or alteration can be accomplished by physical, chemical, or biological processes, process changes, or by other means, except as prohibited by 40 C.F.R. § 403.6(d).
AA. "Public Utilities Commission" or "PUC" means a quasi-judicial tribunal as defined by R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 39-1, as amended.
BB. "Sanitary sewer" means a sewer that is designed to carry liquid and water-carried wastes from residences, commercial buildings, industrial plants, and institutions together with minor quantities of ground, storm, and surface waters that are not discharged intentionally.
CC. "Sewage" means any combination of the liquid and water-carried wastes from residences, commercial buildings, industrial plants, institutions, and governmental facilities that are discharged to the sewer.
DD. "Septage" means the liquid, solid, and gaseous contents of a septic tank.
EE. "Septic tank" means an underground tank used for the disposal of wastes.
FF. "Sewer" means a pipe or conduit and other appurtenance provided to carry wastewater or stormwater.
GG. "Sewer use fee" means a charge levied on users for the availability and/or use of the wastewater treatment and collection system. Such fees shall include, but not be limited to, residential and non-residential consumption and fixed fees, pretreatment permit fees, connection permit fees, sewer back-up removal fees, septic tank waste discharge fees, surcharges and other miscellaneous fees, charges and assessments as set by the NBC and approved by the PUC pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended.
HH. "Shall" is mandatory.
II. "Sludge" means the solids, residues, and precipitate separated from or created in wastewater by the unit processes of a publicly owned treatment works or pretreatment systems.
JJ. "Source" means any building, structure, facility, or installation from which there is or may be the discharge of pollutants.
KK. "Stormwater" means surface water and any other source of run-off. It is normally collected in sewers separate from the sanitary sewers and receives minimal, if any, treatment prior to discharge to receiving waters, except in the case of combined sewers, wherein it will receive treatment at the NBC facilities.
LL. "Surface water" means storm water or other wash water or drainage carrying any pollutants that affect the characteristics of wastewater.
MM. "Total suspended solids" or "TSS" means:
1. insoluble solids that either float on the surface or are suspended in water, wastewater, or other liquids;
2. solid organic or inorganic particles (colloidal, dispersed, coagulated, flocculated) physically held in suspension by agitation or flow or;
3. the quantity of material removed from wastewater in a laboratory test, as prescribed in "Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater" and referred to as nonfilterable residue.
NN. "Turbidity" means a condition in water or wastewater caused by the presence of suspended matter, resulting in the scattering and absorption of light rays and determined by measurement of light diffraction, usually reported in arbitrary turbidity units.
OO. "User" means any person, firm, corporation, government, or other entity that discharges, causes, or permits the discharge of wastewater or stormwater into the NBC's facilities.
PP. "Wastewater" means all the spent water of a community. It may include, but not be limited to, a combination of the liquid and water-carried wastes from residences, commercial buildings, industrial plants, institutions, and governmental facilities whether treated or untreated together with any groundwater, surface water, and stormwater that may be present, which are contributing to the NBC's facilities.
QQ. "Wastewater facilities" means the structures, equipment, and processes required for the collection, treatment, and disposal of wastewater and sewage sludge that are owned and operated by the NBC.
RR. The Definitions in this § 2.3 of this Part are limited only to this Part and not any other Rules and Regulations in existence or promulgated by the NBC in the future.
2.4 Consumption and Fixed Sewer Use Fees
Consumption and fixed sewer use fees shall be assessed against the recorded owner of any property directly or indirectly connected to the NBC's facilities. This includes any property having a sewer system that may be served by a combination of both the public sewers and a private system (i.e., septic) where the sewer system is available to the structure by direct or indirect connection. Said owner shall be and is hereby deemed to be in control of such direct or indirect connection and is deemed to be a user, either actually or constructively, of the NBC's facilities.
2.5 Residential Consumption Sewer Use Fees
A. The following types of users shall be classified as “residential sewer users” and assessed a consumption sewer user fee in accordance with rates set by the NBC and approved by the PUC in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended:
1. All structures containing six (6) residential dwelling units or less.
2. All residential condominiums regardless of the number of dwelling units per structure and/or meter.
2.6 Non-Residential Consumption Sewer Use Fees
A. All structures not classified as residential under § 2.5 of this Part shall be classified as non-residential users and assessed consumption fees in accordance with rates set by the NBC and approved by the PUC in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended. The non-residential structures are classified as follows:
1. Commercial - shall include any structure conducting a service business. This shall include, but not be limited to:
a. Residential structures with greater than six (6) dwelling units;
b. Office buildings;
c. Mixed-use structures combining residential and non-residential uses. Any residential structure containing a commercial use, such as a business or office, shall be considered a mixed-use structure and will be billed at the commercial rate;
d. Halfway houses and/or boarding type facilities where unrelated persons rent rooms;
g. Dry cleaners;
i. Colleges and schools;
k. Nursing homes;
l. Retail and wholesale stores; or,
m. Any other non-industrial or non-residential structure.
2. Industrial - shall include any structure:
a. engaging in the manufacture, processing, or packaging of a product or component of a product; or
b. the development, recovery, or processing of natural resources. This shall include, but not be limited to:
(2) Metal fabricators;
(3) Syrup, soup and wine canners or producers;
(4) Meat packing facilities; or,
(5) Mixed-use structures. Where an industrial use is combined with a commercial use it shall be billed at the commercial rate, for example, where there is an office in a manufacturing plant.
B. The definitions of commercial and industrial as used herein are limited to the establishment of non-residential consumption sewer user fees.
2.7 Fixed Fee Based Sewer Use Fees
A. Fixed fees shall be rendered to property owners in accordance with annual rates set by the NBC and approved by the PUC in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended:
1. Residential - Each dwelling unit of a structure shall be assessed a fixed fee per annum in accordance with rates approved by the PUC, regardless of whether or not each unit is occupied.
2. Residential Well Customers - Each dwelling unit of a structure shall be assessed a fixed fee per annum in accordance with rates approved by the PUC.
3. Non-Residential - Each structure shall be assessed a fixed fee based upon the size of each water meter(s) and/or output meter(s) in accordance with rates approved by the PUC.
4. Vacant Property - Vacant property shall be subject to fixed fees as noted in §§ 2.7(A)(1), (2), and (3) of this Part until the NBC staff confirms that the water service has been terminated or a dwelling unit is uninhabitable (deemed to have no plumbing fixtures). It is the property owner's duty to notify the NBC that the property is vacant or uninhabitable. Credit for non-usage, if any, shall be given from the date of the NBC's inspection.
2.8 Consumption Based Sewer Use Fees
A. Consumption based fees shall be rendered to property owners as usage data is made available by the public water supplier or any other metered water source in accordance with rates approved by the PUC.
1. Basis for Consumption Fees
a. Consumption fees shall be based upon of the volume of water entering the structure from a public water supply agency, private well, stormwater connection, steam facility, or other source. The consumption rate provides for an automatic fifteen percent (15%) reduction in water usage as consumed and not discharged to the NBC facilities. All water sources must be metered except for residential private wells that are billed a fixed fee for consumption. Where a property is not metered at the water source entering the structure, or where a property is metered at the water source entering the structure but there is a discharge meter, consumption fees shall be based upon the volume of metered wastewater discharged directly or indirectly into the NBC's facilities. The use fee rate for discharges from such properties will not be adjusted by fifteen percent (15%). No meter shall be installed or used without the approval of the NBC's Executive Director or his/her designee.
2. Estimated Bills
a. The NBC receives its meter reads from the various public water suppliers. When actual water meter readings do not exist, accounts will receive an estimated bill based on previous usage. Any variance due to estimated reads will be corrected when an actual read is obtained. Estimated bills may result in a customer overpayment resulting in a credit or under billings resulting in a catch-up bill.
3. Back Bills
a. Although a customer is indirectly or directly connected to the NBC's sewer system, there may be instances where the NBC is not billing such property. In such instances, the customer may be back billed for a three (3) year period for flat fees in effect for those service periods and for consumption fees in effect for those service periods based on the meter readings supplied by the public water supplier.
a. Surcharges shall be rendered to property owners in accordance with rates set by the NBC and approved by the PUC in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3.
2.9 Use Fee Abatements
A. Abatement Policy
1. The NBC has established a use fee abatement program whereby a property owner may apply for an adjustment to the water consumption used in the calculation of the consumption charge if they believe that more than fifteen percent (15%) of the source water does not discharge into the sewer system. Abatements are granted for only that percentage of water exceeding the fifteen percent (15%) allowance and are effective from the approval date forward (not retroactive to cover previous usage).
B. Abatement Application Procedure
1. The property owner is required to:
a. Complete a Sewer Use Abatement Application form;
b. Pay an application fee in accordance with rates approved by the PUC;
c. Sign a Terms and Conditions Agreement with the understanding that violation of said Terms and Conditions Agreement will result in the suspension of the abatement status;
d. Reapply in order to reactivate such status if the abatement allowance is suspended for any reason;
e. Obtain NBC approval prior to any abatement installation;
f. Pay for all costs associated with meter installation and maintenance;
g. Supply the NBC personnel with annual or quarterly (as defined in the Terms and Conditions Agreement) readings from all meters located on the property. If said readings are not supplied to the NBC, the abatement status will be suspended indefinitely; and
h. Provide meters that are reasonably accessible for inspection by the NBC staff.
2. Sewer Use Fee Abatement Application forms and the associated Terms and Conditions Agreement will be provided by the NBC's Customer Service Department upon request.
Adjustments for leaks may be granted where it has been determined that a property was billed for water that did not enter the sewer system during a specific time period. The customer shall contact the NBC within thirty (30) days of discovery of the leak and provide documentation from a licensed plumber supporting the occurrence and repair of the leak, along with a copy of the paid repair receipt. Said repairs must be completed within fifteen (15) days of notification to the NBC of said leak. The average usage for the property will be determined by meter readings obtained during subsequent site visits conducted by the NBC staff. This average will be compared to the period in question, including seasonal considerations, to establish whether or not an adjustment is warranted. Customers seeking an adjustment must stay current on payment of all charges not in dispute.
2.11 Meter Testing and Failures
A. A meter tests one hundred percent (100%) if after testing it conforms to the American Waterworks Association's standards or any meter testing standard approved by the PUC pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 39-3-9, as amended. If a meter tests one hundred percent (100%), there shall be no adjustment to a customer's bill except where a bill has been estimated, in which case the bill will be adjusted on the meter read out.
1. Meter Repaired or Replaced
a. When a meter is removed for testing or repair and it does not test one hundred percent (100%), the bill shall be issued based upon the average daily rate of water consumption or discharge as shown by the meter for a ninety (90) day period after the meter has been returned to service and is in proper working order or after the meter is replaced. Any dispute of an estimated bill must be made within six (6) months of notification to the NBC that said failed meter has been repaired or replaced.
b. If a meter has not been returned to service or replaced within thirty (30) days the bill shall be issued based upon the average daily rate of water consumption or discharge for the previous two (2) year period. Failure of a customer to replace or repair a meter shall result in consumption bills based upon estimated readings until such time as the meter is repaired or replaced.
2. Dead Meter or Meter Unable to be Read
a. If a meter fails to register any flow at all (i.e., dead meter), or if a meter is unable to be read, and has been in this condition for more than ninety (90) days, the bill shall be issued based upon one or more of the following factors:
(1) Estimated meter readings provided by the water supplier;
(2) Estimated consumption that is comparable for a property of the same classification and occupancy;
(3) After replacement of the meter, the average daily consumption or discharge as shown by the new meter for the ninety (90) day period following replacement, plus seasonal considerations.
2.12 Pretreatment Fees
The user shall be assessed pretreatment fees in accordance with rates set by the NBC and approved by the PUC in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended.
2.13 Sewer Connection Fees
The customer shall be assessed sewer connection fees in accordance with rates set by the NBC and approved by the PUC, in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended. Connection fees are payable at the time of application for a connection permit.
2.14 Back-Up Removal Fees
When the NBC personnel clear a sewer blockage and where such blockage is determined to be a private sewer, a sewer back-up removal fee as approved by the PUC, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended, shall be paid by the customer.
2.15 Septage Fees
Septage haulers shall establish a credit balance with the NBC prior to arrival at the NBC’s designated septage disposal facility and will pay the rates set by the NBC as approved by the PUC, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended.
2.16 Other Sewer Use Fees, Including Miscellaneous Fees, Charges, Surcharges, and Assessments
Users shall pay any other sewer use fees, including miscellaneous fees, charges, surcharges and assessments, not specifically mentioned in this Part as set by the NBC and approved by the PUC, pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended.
When a property that is either directly or indirectly connected to the NBC’s facilities is sold, the NBC requires that a current water meter reading be provided to Customer Service at least two (2) business days prior to the sale. The NBC will not make any adjustments to the consumption due to the failure of the requesting party to provide accurate meter readings at the time of the closing request. The NBC will not become involved in any disputes arising from inaccurate meter readings or estimated consumption charges when readings are not provided and/or the meter is malfunctioning. The new owner is responsible for all charges that remain unpaid after the closing date.
A. Dispute Procedure
1. If a customer believes that a specific charge on the sewer bill is incorrect, he or she must contact the NBC’s Customer Service Department via telephone or in writing to dispute the charge. While a particular charge is in dispute, late charges will not accrue against the disputed transaction and the NBC will not attempt to collect that specific amount. The customer is required to pay the undisputed portion of the bill. The right to dispute a bill is personal to the person assessed and it is not assignable or transferable.
1. If a customer is unable to resolve the dispute with the NBC, he or she may refer the matter to the PUC in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws Chapter 39-1, as amended, by telephone or in writing for dispute resolution. While a dispute is under consideration by a PUC Review Officer, the NBC will cease collection action to obtain payment for the disputed charge(s).
Corrections to sewer user fees, whether debit or credit adjustments, shall be processed by the NBC no more than three (3) years from the date of the original billing transaction. Adjustments are corrections to inaccurate charges and are not restricted to any type of sewer use fee or use classification and shall be issued without bias in accordance with the rates and fees approved by the PUC. All corrections must be fully documented and are subject to the NBC authorized approval prior to processing.
A. Payment Terms
1. All sewer use fees shall be due and payable upon receipt, unless due earlier as provided in this Part or as approved by the PUC. Customers may make payment via cash, personal check, bank check, credit card, money order, or by any other method approved by Customer Service. There will be a fee as approved by the PUC applied directly to the customer’s account for returned checks. Customers who wish to pay in person may do so at the NBC’s Customer Service Office or they may pay in full at the financial institution listed on the back of the NBC bill. Sewer use fees not paid within thirty (30) days after issuance of the bill shall be deemed to be overdue and delinquent. All delinquent bills shall be subject to a late charge in accordance with a rate approved by the PUC pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws Chapters 39-1 and 39-3, as amended.
B. Payment Plans
1. If a customer is unable to pay the sewer bill by the due date, he or she may contact Customer Service and request payment arrangements. The standard budget terms are fifty percent (50%) to be paid immediately with the balance payable in thirty (30) days or in two equal monthly installments. Current charges and late charges must be paid in addition to the budget amount. Management may approve longer budget terms.
2.21 Sewer Use Fee Liens, Water Termination, and Collection Actions
All overdue sewer use fees shall be a lien upon the real estate of said user. All such sewer use fees not paid shall be subject to collection procedures in accordance with R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 46-25-22 and 46-25-22.1, as amended. Collection action may include, but is not limited to, termination of water service and/or sale of property lien at public auction. The customer shall be responsible for any court costs and any other collection fees or costs, plus attorneys’ fees incurred by the NBC in any collection proceeding initiated in order to collect outstanding fees, charges, and assessments owed.
2.22 Maintenance and Repair
Where a property utilizes a meter that is not provided by a public water supplier, the property owner shall be responsible for all costs associated with the meter installation, calibration, maintenance, and repair.
2.23 Titling of Accounts
All consumption accounts will be titled in the name of the recorded property owner. All pretreatment accounts shall be in the name of the user.
2.24 Interpretation of Requirements
1. The provisions of this Part with respect to the meaning of technical terms and phrases shall be interpreted and administered by the Executive Director.
1. Captions and headings are for reference only and shall not limit or otherwise affect the meaning of the paragraphs thereunder.
1. If any provision of these Customer Services Rules and Regulations or the application thereof to any person or circumstances is held invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction, the remainder of the Customer Services Rules and Regulations shall not be affected thereby. The invalidity of any section or sections or parts of any section or sections shall not affect the validity of the remainder of these Customer Services Rules and Regulations.
|Title||835||Narragansett Bay Commission|
|Part||2||Customer Service (835-RICR-20-00-2)|
|Type of Filing||Direct Final Amendment|
Regulation Authority :
R.I. Gen. Laws § 46-25
Purpose and Reason :
The purpose of this regulation is to ensure the proper billing, dispute resolution, and collection of the sewer use fees of the Narragansett Bay Commission. This rule is being reformatted for eventual inclusion in the Rhode Island Code of Regulations. The only changes are technical in nature and to remove superfluous language on the amendment of rules and regulations that applies to all rules, the effective date, and the history of amendments to the rule. In the development of the proposed amendment consideration was given to: (1) alternative approaches; (2) overlap or duplication with other statutory and regulatory provisions; and (3) significant economic impact on small business. No alternative approach, duplication, or overlap was identified based upon available information.