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ADM-14.03 - Residential and Commercial Water and Sewer Leak Adjustment Policy

RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL WATER AND SEWER LEAK ADJUSTMENT POLICY

Administrative Rule Adopted by Council

ARC-ADM-14.03


 

AUTHORITY

 

The Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services are authorized to charge for the services they provide and to adjust ratepayer accounts. (City Code Sections 3.24.020, 3.24.030, 21.16.120, 17.36.100 and 17.36.130). City Code Section 3.24.030 authorizes the Customer Services Group of the Portland Water Bureau to perform billing, collection and account management functions for these bureaus, respond to customer inquiries and manage financial assistance programs.

 


 

PURPOSE

 

To provide an opportunity for account holders to request adjustments to water and sewer user charges when a leak occurs in the water system on the property side of the meter.

                                              

To describe conditions when a leak adjustment request will be considered, establish repair expectations and ensure the consistent application of leak adjustments to accounts.

 


 

DEFINITIONS

 

Leak: An unintentional water loss caused by broken and/or malfunctioning plumbing fixtures or pipes at a residence or building.

 

Non-Sewer Affected Leak: Where water loss from the leak does not enter the City's sewer system. (e.g., underground leak)

 

Sewer Affected Leak: Where water loss from the leak enters the City's sewer system. (e.g., toilet leak)

 


 

PROCEDURE AND REQUIREMENTS

  • An adjustment may occur only after all leaks have been repaired and verified with a field check of the meter by City staff. To verify leaks have been repaired and usage has returned to normal, it may be necessary to obtain a second meter reading within a minimum of two weeks from the date of the first read following the repair.
  • Reasonable efforts to locate the leak and initiate repairs must be taken within 30 days of the initial notification of increased usage.  
  • The City's notification to a ratepayer or water user may include, but not be limited to, a billing statement, a postcard delivered to the owner or occupant, a courtesy phone call or a notice left at the property. Notification to the City may be in the form of a conversation with a customer service representative or written or electronic statement or inquiry to Portland Water Bureau Customer Service.  Suspected leaks reported to the Water Bureau by another agency or City bureau will be discussed with the ratepayer or water user. 
  • Repairs must be completed within 90 days after the initial notification of increased usage. Exceptions may be considered for extraordinary circumstances.
  • Documentation of repairs may be required prior to the approval of an adjustment.
  • For ongoing underground leaks, a sewer volume adjustment for a period not to exceed one year may be applied to an account if the ratepayer or water user provides documentation, or account notes verify, that a reasonable effort was made to locate the leak. A retroactive sewer volume leak adjustment request for more than one year must be made in writing.
  • A leak adjustment may be extended across two billing periods to allow for repairs made during a mid-billing cycle. 

 

GUIDELINES FOR WATER BILLING ADJUSTMENTS

 

During any 12-month period, an account may receive one adjustment covering two billing cycles for a sewer affected leak and one adjustment covering two billing cycles for a non-sewer affected leak.

 

Non-Sewer Affected Leaks:  Additional consumption above the corresponding billing period of the previous year will be considered a leak-related loss and will be adjusted based upon the volume during the corresponding billing period of the previous year. If no history is available for comparison, the City will obtain readings to project normal usage. If a projection is not possible, the City will use class averages to bill the account.

 

Sewer Affected Leaks:  Adjusted water usage will be billed based upon usage during the corresponding billing period of the previous year plus 50% of the additional consumption caused by the leak. If no history is available for comparison, the City will obtain readings to project normal usage. If a projection is not possible, the City will use class averages to bill the account.

 


 

GUIDELINES FOR SEWER BILLING ADJUSTMENTS

 

An account is eligible to receive one sewer affected leak adjustment covering two billing cycles during any 12-month period when sewer volume is billed according to actual water consumption. An account is eligible to receive one non-sewer affected adjustment covering two billing cycles during any 12-month period. Additional requests for non-sewer affected adjustments will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  A ratepayer may apply for both a sewer-related and a non-sewer related adjustment for one leak, but only one adjustment will be honored unless the person is able to produce documentation showing the leak qualifies for both.

 

Non-sewer affected Leaks

  • Residential:  If a leak occurs during the winter average review period, the additional consumption above the corresponding billing period of the previous year will be considered a leak-related loss, and the winter average will be adjusted based upon the volume during the same time period of the previous year. If no history is available for comparison, the City will obtain readings to project normal usage. If a projection is less than the class average, the City will use class averages to bill the account. If the leak occurred outside the annual review period, the sewer volume will be billed at the current winter average.  
  • Commercial:   Additional consumption above the corresponding billing period of the previous year will be considered a leak-related loss and will be billed based upon the volume during the corresponding billing period of the previous year. If no history is available for comparison, the City will obtain readings to project normal usage. 

Sewer affected leaks

  • Residential:  Adjusted sewer volume will be billed based upon the volume during the corresponding billing period of the previous year plus 50% of the additional consumption caused by the leak. If the leak occurred during the winter average review period, the additional consumption billed above the corresponding billing period of the previous year will be considered a leak-related loss and will be adjusted based upon the volume during the corresponding billing period of the previous year. If no history is available for comparison, the City will obtain readings to project normal usage. If a projection is less than the class average, the City will use class averages to bill the account. If the leak occurred outside the annual review period, the sewer volume will be billed at the current winter average. 
  • Residential accounts which have high water use due to seasonal usage (i.e. irrigation, pool or spa fill) during the winter average quarter may be granted a sewer volume and winter average adjustment once every 36 months. The ratepayer will receive confirmation of the adjustment and an explanation of the winter average sewer volume billing methodology. The adjustment will be for the additional consumption billed above the usage for the same time period of the previous year. If no history is available for comparison, the City will obtain readings to project normal usage or use a class average to bill the account.
  • Commercial:  Adjusted sewer volume will be billed based upon usage during the corresponding billing period of the previous year plus 50% of the additional consumption caused by the leak. If no history is available for comparison, the City will obtain readings to project normal usage. 

 

APPLICABILITY

 

Water loss due to theft, vandalism or construction damage is not covered under this policy. Resolution of these instances is the responsibility of the account holder or property owner.

 

Water loss due to coupling leaks on the property side of the meter will be adjusted based upon the water usage and sewer volume during the same time period of the previous year. If no history is available, the City will obtain meter readings to project normal usage. If a projection is not possible, the City will use class averages to bill the account.

 


 

CONTACT INFORMATION

 

Customer Services Group Director

 


HISTORY

 

Resolution No. 36383 adopted by City Council March 1, 2006.

Amended by Resolution No. 36624, adopted by City Council July 16, 2008 and effective August 15, 2008.