New state legislation concerning the City’ ability to shutoff water services to residential non-payers in town has resulted in the City Council approving updated regulations and policy.
The state’s Water Shutoff Protection Act, which changes the requirement and procedures relative to the discontinuation of residential water service for non-payment for any urban water supplier, such as Corning, requires every urban and community water system with more than 200 service connections must have a written shutoff policy that is available on the jurisdiction’s website, explained City Attorney Collin Bogener.
“The policy must be in five languages in addition to English, those being Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Tagalog, and in any other language spoken by at least 10 percent of the people residing within the system’s service area,” he added.
City Manager Kristina Miller said the City will have to pay an official interpreter in each of the non-English languages to write the updated water shutoff policy for its website at substantial cost to the City.
“But we have to do it, we have no choice,” she stated.
The specific requirements of the new water shutoff policy includes a 60-day waiting period before service can be discontinued, and the City is required to contact by telephone or writing, the customer named on the account at least seven business days before water shutoff occurs.
The City’s previous policy made it possible for water service shutoff for non-payment to take place in less than 60 days.
In addition, if notice of possible shutoff is give by telephone, the City must offer to provide the customer the written policy on discontinuation of service and offer to discuss options to avoid shutoff, including alternate payment schedules, deferred payments, minimum payments, amortization and bill review and appeal.
“The new law also includes requires processes if the water supplier is unable to contact the customer, as well as a specific mandate for a customer appeals process,” Bogener said.