PAWSD establishes Leakage Service Charge Rate

The Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) Board of Directors met in regular session Tuesday and discussed several water- and wastewater-related issues. While none were really earth-shattering, directors did approve a resolution establishing a special water service rate for customers adversely affected by underground leaks.

By unanimous vote, the board adopted what it considers its new “Policy For Application of the Leakage Service Charge Rate Structure.” In plain English, the district adopted a new leakage rate customers may request, after receiving abnormally high water bills resulting from unseen service line leaks.

As with all approved resolutions, this one amends all corresponding rules and regulations to conform to the policies and procedures within the new policy. It also authorizes the establishment of future amendments to the policy, as deemed necessary by the current or future boards. The resolution took effect upon Tuesday’s approval.

Essentially, PAWSD defines the Leakage Service Charge Rate as the lowest district-treated water volume rate per billable usage in effect at the time it receives a request for application of the rate. Currently, that rate is $4.20 per 1,000 gallons.

Once a leak is detected and the affected customer requests application of the Leakage Service Charge Rate, the rate — if approved by the board — will be applied to the amount of water measured by the customer’s meter, which exceeds the normal or average usage by the same meter, during the same billing cycle.

The district calculates normal usage by examining available meter data from the previous two years, for the same account. Before applying the leakage rate to excess usage, however, standard rates apply to customer usage up to the normal amount.

According to the new policy, district staff will consider charging an account the Leakage Service Charge Rate when all of the following criteria apply:

• Water usage volume must be at least double the normal (average) usage for the same billing cycle, based on the previous two years’ meter data.

• The cause of excessive water usage must be due to an under ground service line leak, excluding irrigation lines and yard hydrants.

• The property owner, tenant or property manager must request the rate in writing, and include the leak location, date of repair and the billing cycle the district should consider.

• The customer must document proof of repairs.

According to PAWSD officials, customers must realize they are responsible for monitoring monthly billing statements and regularly maintaining indoor and outdoor water faucets and fixtures. While new technology often alerts the district to unusual water usage by some accounts, excessive usage by others may go undetected for days or weeks.

Therefore, the district will limit application of the Leakage Service Charge Rate for any single account to just once in any two-year period, and for no more than two consecutive billing cycles.

chuck@pagosasun.com