The Charles Town Utility Board was chosen by the City of Charles Town Tree Board to participate in the City’s second “Social Distancing Tree Planting” event this week. The City of Charles Town Tree Board received a grant through Cacapon Institute’s CommuniTree program to plant 16 trees this Spring at Evitts Run Park. Charles Town Utility Board staff members were happy to support this great source water protection activity. #HistoricallyHIP #socialdistancetree #canyoudigit
Ways to Protect the Utility System
Be mindful of what you flush down your toilet, that could lead to costly sewer backups in your home or in the sanitary sewer system. Items can create blockages in pipes or cause damage to expensive equipment used in the wastewater treatment plant.
Please DO NOT flush the following items:
~ Baby wipes or diapers
~ Flushable wipes – they are not actually flushable
~ Aquarium gravel or kitty litter
~ Sanitary napkins
~ Cotton swabs, sponges
~ Plastic or rubber items of any kind
~ Food wrappers
“Flushable” wipes cause millions of dollars in damage to infrastructure in the United States each year. Rags and wipes mix with the fats, oils and grease (FOG) in plumbing fixtures and can create large sewer blockages. Wipes are often marketed as a good alternative to toilet paper but since they do not break down, this sometimes requires crews to unclog pipes and pumps as well as replace and upgrade equipment. Next time you debate about whether to flush an item other than toilet paper, simply put it in the trashcan or dispose of properly.
Is your home ready for the cold? It doesn’t take long for meters and pipes to freeze during cold temperatures, especially below 32 degrees. If your pipes or meter freeze, you will not have water. With colder temps, it is important to protect your pipes as much as possible.
Here are some helpful tips:
When Temperatures Dip, let it Drip!
To keep water flowing through the pipes in your home, let one cold water faucet run at a pencil size stream. To re-use, place a jug underneath to catch the drips and use it to water indoor
plants. The amount of water used for this purpose costs significantly less than it would cost to fix the damage from a frozen pipe or replace a meter.
Insulate your Pipes
Insulate your pipes in unheated spaces like the garage and under cabinets along outside walls. Pipe insultation is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at any home improvements or hardware store.
Set the Thermostat
Whether you’re at home or away traveling, set your thermostat no lower than 55 degrees. Travelers will often make the mistake of turning thermostats off thinking it will save on heating bills, when in reality frozen pipes and damage to personal property could result.
The 4th Quarter Pipeline Newsletter published by the West Virginia Public Service Commission is now available on their website. To view, click here.
We are continuing to work with customers facing financial hardships to establish payment arrangements. We offer contracts for deferred payment plans in most cases. Please contact our office at (304) 725-2316 to see if you qualify.
There are also local agencies that offer assistance with customer delinquent utility bills. The agencies shown below may provide direct assistance or referrals for assistance. Please contact the agency directly for more information.
- Community Ministries (304) 725-3186
- Department of Health & Human Resources (304) 724-2600
- Salvation Army (304) 267-4612
- Catholic Community Service (304) 267 8837
By Lisa Bailey, Technical Analyst, Engineering Division, Public Service Commission of West Virginia
What can a utility do when finding a customer has tampered with utility services? What can a utility do when finding an improper connection to the water system? Can a utility terminate water service without notice? Can a utility deny service to an applicant? These are just some of the common questions the PSC often addresses through both the formal and informal complaint case process.
WV Code § 61-3-44 provides that, in part:
“Procuring gas, water, or electricity, by device, with intent to defraud; penalty, shall be punishable as a misdemeanor.”
The Public Service Commission’s Rules and Regulations for the Government of Water Utilities (Water Rules), 150 C.S.R.7, more specifically address termination of service without notice and refusal to serve an applicant.
Rule 4.8., Utility discontinuance of service, specifically, Rule 4.8.a.2., states:
“Where conditions hazardous to life or property are found to exist on the customer’s premises, or where the utility’s regulating, measuring or distribution equipment or facilities have been tampered with, the water may be shut off without notice in advance.”
Rule 4.9., Refusal to serve applicant, specifically, Rule 4.9.a., states:
“Non-compliance with rules. Any utility may decline to serve an applicant until he has complied with these rules and the Commission approved utility’s rules set forth in a Commission approved tariff governing water service.”
Rule 4.9.b., states:
“Applicant’s facilities inadequate.—The utility may refuse to serve an applicant if, in its judgment, the applicant’s installation of piping equipment is regarded as hazardous of such character that satisfactory service cannot be provided.”
Rule 4.11., Access to property, specifically, Rule 4.11.a., states:
“The utility shall at all reasonable times have access to meters, service connections and other property owned by it on customer’s premises, for the purpose of maintenance and operation. Neglect or refusal on the part of the customers to provide reasonable access to meters, service connections and other property owned by the utility for the above purposes shall be deemed to be sufficient cause for discontinuance of service.”
Rule 5.3., Customer Service Pipe, specifically, Rule 5.3.h., states:
“A customer must maintain his service pipe in good condition and free from all leaks and defects, at the customer’s cost and expense. A customer’s failure to comply with this rule may result in termination of service pursuant to these Rules.”
Rule 5.3.m., states:
“The customer shall not attach any fixtures to, or make any branches in, the
customer service pipe between the point of service and the premises served. Violation of this rule may result in termination of service pursuant to Rule 4.8.”
Rule 5.3.n., states:
“There shall be no more than one (1) customer service pipe required to serve a single premises and each premises shall be supplied through an independent customer service pipe, unless otherwise approved by the utility in writing.”
In summary, while a properly operated utility should only have to enforce these measures in extreme cases, the utility has the right and ability to terminate water service, without notice, and to deny service to customers that do not follow the proper Rules for the Government of Water Utilities.
Source: Lisa Bailey, The Pipeline, Summer 2020, Public Service Commission of West Virginia.