Proposed bylaw to ensure transparent water and wastewater billing

Guelph, Ont., May 27, 2016—The City has drafted a new bylaw to clarify its customer service processes for billing of water and wastewater services including account creation, water meter protocols, the handling of unpaid accounts and  billing dispute resolution.

The bylaw will be presented to the Infrastructure, Development and Engineering (IDE) Committee on June 7. If recommended by the IDE Committee, the proposed bylaw will be presented to Council for approval on June 27. If approved, the bylaw would come into effect immediately.

“Guelph has grown a lot since we introduced the City’s Water Bylaw in 2001—we’ve seen a large increase in both residential and business water and wastewater customers—and today’s customers want detailed information about billing processes,” said Wayne Galliher, Manager of Technical Services at Water Services. “The proposed Customer Accounts Bylaw is aimed at ensuring customers know what to expect in terms of customer service around water and wastewater billing, as well as improving the efficiency of internal business practices.”

The proposed bylaw details the following water and wastewater billing matters:

  • Customer and City responsibilities around the provision of water and wastewater services, including care of City–owned equipment on customer property (e.g. water meters);
  • Access to water meters and process for recording meter readings;
  • Processes for resolving instances of over or under billing;
  • Collections procedures for unpaid accounts; and
  • Enforcement in the case of fraud or non-compliance of account terms and conditions.

Where billing disputes are concerned, the proposed bylaw includes a new means for the City to collect on delinquent accounts by applying unpaid balances to property taxes where the property owner is also the account owner. In cases where a tenant is the account owner and a property owner is the landlord, the property tax collection method would not be used.

This new bylaw is the first part of updates to water and wastewater-related bylaws at the City. Next steps include a formal rate review to help inform further updates to the City’s existing Water Bylaw.

“The City’s rate review, scheduled to begin later this year, will include a review and evaluation of different rate structures considering equity, fairness and full cost accounting,” noted Galliher. ”This work will also include an assessment of program options to support affordability for low income households; high bill forgiveness; and billing exemptions for businesses specific to situations where the bulk of water is used in product creation, or evaporated through an industry process, and does not reach the sewer system for treatment.”

Anyone wishing to speak on this matter at the June 7 IDE Committee meeting should register with the Clerk’s office by 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 7.

For more information

Wayne Galliher, Manager, Technical Services
Water Services, Environmental Services
519-822-1260 extension 2106