Policy on Discontinuation of Residential Water Service for Non-payment
This Policy on Discontinuation of Residential Water Service for Non-Payment (“Policy”) shall apply to Fontana Water Company’s (“FWC” or “Utility”) discontinuation of residential water service for non-payment under the provisions Rule No. 11 of the Utility’s tariffs approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”).
I. Application of Policy; Contact Telephone Number: This policy shall apply only to residential water service. Please contact FWC customer support at (909) 822-2201 for assistance concerning the payment of water bills and the potential establishment of the alternatives set forth in this policy to avoid discontinuation of service.
II. Rendering and Payment of Bills:
A. Bills for Service: Bills for water service will be rendered to each consumer on a monthly basis unless otherwise provided for in the Utility’s tariffs approved by the CPUC. Bills for service are due and payable upon the date of presentation and will become past due if not paid within 19 days from the date of mailing. It is the customer’s responsibility to assure that payments are received by the Utility in a timely manner. Payment may be made by one of the following methods:
1. Auto Pay: Auto pay is a preauthorized payment program. This program requires a financial account, such as a checking account at a bank or credit union. To enroll, obtain an application online at www.fontanawater.com or call customer service at (909) 822-2201.
2. Pay in Person: FWC accepts payments in our local office. Payment must be in the form of cash, check, or money order.
3. Pay by Phone: Payments may be made through our automated phone system with a debit card, credit card, or electronic check by calling (844) 842-6466. A third-party convenience fee applies.
4. Pay Online: Payments may be made using our approved third party vendor. To make a payment online, visit www.fontanawater.com. Forms of payment accepted are debit card, credit card, or electronic check. A third-party convenience fee applies.
5. Using Your Financial Institution’s Bill Pay Service: FWC accepts payment from your financial institution’s bill pay service. This payment option may take additional processing time versus other payment methods. Please plan accordingly. Your payment must include the account number. Failure to include your account number may result in payment delay.
(see Rule Nos. 5.B,11.B.1.a(1), Form No. 3)
B. Alternative Payment Arrangements or Extensions: Any customer who is unable to pay for water service within the normal payment period may request an alternative payment arrangement or extension to avoid disruption of service. Options include splitting payments (payment arrangements) for up to six months to pay off the full balance and deferring payments (payment extension) of the full balance for up to two weeks beyond the due date. FWC also offers a California Alternative Rates for Water (“CARW”) program, which provides reduced service charges for those who meet income eligibility requirements.
III. Disputed Bills:
A. Petition for Utility Review:
1. Any customer (or adult occupant of a residential service address) may petition the Utility for review of a bill for water service in accordance with Rule Nos. 5 and 10 of the Utility’s Tariffs.
2. Any such customer who has initiated a billing complaint or requested an investigation within 5 days of receiving a disputed bill or who has, before discontinuance of service made payment arrangements for a bill asserted to be beyond the means of the customer to pay in full within the normal period for payment, shall not have the water service discontinued for nonpayment during the pendency of an investigation by the Utility of such customer complaint or request and shall be given an opportunity for review of the complaint, investigation, or request by a review manager of the Utility.
3. The review shall include consideration of whether a customer shall be permitted to make installment payments on any unpaid balance of the delinquent account over a reasonable period of time, not to exceed 12 months.
Such service shall not be discontinued for nonpayment for any customer complying with an installment payment agreement entered into with the Utility, provided the customer also keeps current his or her account for water service as charges accrue in each subsequent billing period.
If a customer fails to comply with an installment payment agreement, the Utility will give no less than 5 business days discontinuance of service notice before discontinuing such service, but such notice shall not entitle the customer to further investigation or alternative payment arrangements by the Utility.
(see Rule Nos. 10.A, 11.B.1.b)
B. Appeal to the CPUC: Any customer (or adult occupant of a residential service address) whose complaint or request for an investigation has resulted in a determination by the Utility adverse to such customer or adult occupant, may appeal the determination to the CPUC in accordance with Rule Nos. 5 and 10 (including depositing the disputed amount with the CPUC). Any such appeal of the disputed bill to the CPUC shall be in accordance with the CPUC’s adopted Rules of Practice and Procedure. Written documentation of an appeal filed and diligently pursued with the CPUC will prevent discontinuation of residential water service during the official appeal process.
(see Rule Nos. 10.B & C, 11.B.1.c)
IV. Discontinuance of Residential Service for Nonpayment:
A. Past-Due Bills: For purposes of this policy, residential service means water service to a residential connection that includes single-family residences, multifamily residences, mobilehomes, including, but not limited to, mobilehomes in mobilehome parks, or farmworker housing. The Utility shall allow every residential customer a total of 79 days from the date of mailing its bill for services, postage prepaid, to make payment of the bill prior to discontinuance of service. The Utility shall not discontinue residential service for nonpayment of a delinquent account unless the Utility first gives notice of the delinquency and impending discontinuance in conformance with Rule No. 8.A.3, which establishes notice periods ranging from 7 to 15 days, depending on the occupancy type. The Utility will provide notices timely to ensure that the applicable notice period is included in the total 79-day period referenced above and does not provide additional time to pay.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.a.(1))
B. Residential Health and Safety Exception:
1. Service to a residential water customer (or a tenant of the customer of record) will not be discontinued for nonpayment when such customer establishes to the satisfaction of the Utility that all three of the following conditions are met;
a. The residential customer submits certification of a primary care provider,* as defined by the Water Shutoff Protection Act, that discontinuation of residential service will be life threatening to, or pose a serious threat to the health and safety of, a resident of the premises where residential service is provided;
*Proof must be by certification from any internist, general practitioner, obstetrician-gynecologist, pediatrician, family physician and surgeon, nonphysician medical practitioner, or primary care clinic, rural health clinic, community clinic or hospital outpatient clinic. A “nonphysician medical practitioner” means a physician assistant or certified nurse-midwife performing services under physician and surgeon supervision, or a nurse practitioner performing services in collaboration with a physician and surgeon. (See Section 14088(b)(1)(A) and (c) of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.)
b. The residential customer demonstrates that he or she is financially unable to pay for residential service within the Utility’s normal billing cycle. The customer shall be deemed financially unable to pay for residential service within the Utility’s normal billing cycle if any member of the customer’s household is a current recipient of CalWORKs, CalFresh, general assistance, Medi-Cal, Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment Program, or California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, or the customer declares that the household’s annual income is less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level; and
c. The residential customer is willing to enter into an agreement for deferred (paying at a later date), reduced (spreading payments out over an agreed upon period of time), or some other alternative payment plan, satisfactory to the Utility, over a period not to exceed 12 months, including arrangements for prompt payment of subsequent bills.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.d.(1))
2. If the conditions listed in Section IV.B.1 of this Policy (Rule No. 11.B.1.d.(1)) are met, the customer shall be offered one or more of the following options:
a. Amortization of the unpaid balance.
b. Participation in an alternative payment schedule.
c. A partial or full reduction of the unpaid balance financed without additional charges to other ratepayers.
d. Temporary deferral of payment.
The Utility may choose which of the payment options the customer undertakes and may set the parameters of that payment option. The repayment option offered should result in repayment of any remaining outstanding balance within 12 months.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.d.(2))
3. Notwithstanding the above, residential service may be discontinued to any customer meeting the conditions above who:
a. Does not agree to or comply with an amortization agreement, an alternative payment schedule, or a deferral or reduction in payment plan after incurring delinquent charges for 60 days or more, OR
b. After agreeing to an amortization agreement, an alternative payment schedule, or a deferral or reduction in payment plan for delinquent charges, the customer does not pay his or her current residential service charges for 79 days or more.
Notice of discontinuance for either of the reasons listed above will be posted in a prominent and conspicuous location no less than 5 business days before discontinuing such service, but such notice shall not entitle the customer to further investigation or alternative payment arrangements by the utility.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.d.(3))
C. Other Disconnection Terms: A residential customer’s service may be discontinued for nonpayment of a bill for residential service previously rendered him or her at any location served by the Utility. The discontinuance of service notice will be given before discontinuance of service takes place. Residential service will not, however, be discontinued for nonpayment of bills for separate nonresidential service.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.e)
D. Timing of Disconnection: Service will not be discontinued by reason of delinquency in payment for service on any Saturday, Sunday, legal holiday, or at any time during which the business offices of the Utility are not open to the public.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.f)
E. Discontinuance of Residential Service for Nonpayment Where Service is Provided to Residential Occupants in a Detached Single-Famly Dwelling, a Multi-Unit Residential Structure, Mobilehome Park, or Permanent Residential Structure in a Labor Camp, Where the Owner, Manager, or Operator of the Dwelling, Structure or Park is the Customer of Record:
1. Where said occupants are individually metered:
The Utility is not required to make service available to these occupants unless each occupant agrees to the terms and conditions of service and meets the requirement of the law and the Utility’s rules and tariffs. However, if one or more occupants are willing and able to assume responsibility for subsequent charges by these occupants to the account to the satisfaction of the Utility, and if there is a practical physical means legally available to the utility of selectively providing services to these occupants who have met the requirements of the Utility’s rules and tariffs, the utility will make service available to these occupants. For these selected occupants, establishment of credit will be as prescribed in Rule No. 6, except that where prior service for a period of time is a condition for establishing credit with the Utility, proof that is acceptable to the Utility of residence and prompt payment of rent or other credit obligation during that period of time is a satisfactory equivalent.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.g(1))
2. Where said occupants are master-metered:
The Utility is not required to make service available to these occupants unless each occupant agrees to the terms and conditions of service, and meets the requirements of the law and the Utility’s rules and tariffs.
The same provisions of Section IV.E.1 of this Policy (Rule No. 11.B.1.g.(1)) which apply to individually metered occupants also apply to master metered occupants, except a representative may act on the behalf of a master metered occupant, and the Utility will not discontinue service in any of the following situations:
a. During the pendency of an investigation by the Utility of a master-metered customer dispute or complaint.
b. When the master-metered customer has been granted an extension of the period for repayment of a bill.
c. For an indebtedness owed by the master-metered customer to any other person or corporation or when the obligation represented by the delinquent account or any other indebtedness was incurred with a person or corporation other than the Utility demanding payment therefor.
d. When a delinquent account relates to another property owned, managed, or operated by the master-metered customer.
e. When a public health or building officer certifies that discontinuance would result in a significant threat to the health or safety of the residential occupants or the public. Proof of age or disability are described in Section IV.G.3 of this Policy (Rule No. 11.B.1.i.)
(see Rule 11.B.1.g(2))
F. Residential Customer’s Remedies Upon Receipt of Discontinuance for Nonpayment Notice:
1. If upon receipt of a discontinuance notice, a residential customer is unable to pay, he or she must contact the Utility before discontinuance of service to make payment arrangements to avoid discontinuance of service. Information pertaining to alternative payment options and other options for averting discontinuation of residential service for nonpayment will be provided with the discontinuance notice as described in Rule No. 5 of the Utility’s tariffs, or can be obtained by contacting the Utility.
2. If, after contacting the Utility, the residential customer alleges to the CPUC an inability to pay and that he or she is unable to make payment arrangements with the Utility, he or she should contact the CPUC’s Consumer Affairs Branch (“CAB”) to make an informal complaint. To maintain uninterupted service, this action must be taken prior to discontinuation of service as defined in the provided notice
3. The CAB’s resolution of the matter should be reported to both the Utility and the residential customer within 10 business days after receipt of the informal complaint. If the customer is not satisfied with such resolution, such customer may file, within 10 business days after the date of the CAB’s letter, a formal complaint with the CPUC under Public Utilities Code Section 1702 on a form provided by the CAB.
4. Failure of any customer to observe these time limits prescribed herein shall entitle the utility to insist upon payment or, upon failure to pay, to proceed to discontinue the customer’s service in accordance with the Utility’s rules.
(see RuleNo. 11.B.1.h)
G. Designation of a Third-Party Representative (Older Adult or Disabled only):
1. Customer must inform Utility if he or she desires that a third party receive discontinuance or other notices on his or her behalf.
2. The Utility must be advised of name, address, and telephone number of third party with a letter from third party accepting this responsibility.
3. Only customers who certify that they are older adults age 62 or over, or disabled are entitled to third-party representation. Proof of age must be supported by certificate of birth, driver’s license, passport or other reliable document. Proof of disability must be by certification from a licensed physician, public health nurse or social worker.
(see Rule No. 11.B.1.i)