Your Rights as a Residential Water Customer
Know Your Payment and Disconnection Rights
Prior to contacting the PSC, contact your utility company to try to resolve the problem. If you cannot resolve the problem with your utility company, you may contact the PSC Consumer Affairs Division at 608-266-2001, 1-800-225-7729, or on the web at: PSC Consumer Info. A staff member will obtain information from you and the utility company, and try to resolve the issue.
Service Disconnection of Refusal
Utility services can be disconnected if you:
- Fail to pay your bills
- Fail to comply with a deffered payment agreement
- Tamper with your meter
- Fail to pay a deposit
- Have a safety hazard
- Live at an address where a prior customer failed to pay their bills and continues to reside at that address
- Fail to provide utility access to your meter
A utility must send you a notice before your service is disconnected unless the disconnection is due to a safety hazard or self-reconnection. The disconnection notice must clearly state the reasons for the disconnection, when the disconnection can happen, and how to contact your utility to try to resolve the issue. The dispute procedures must be printed on the disconnection notice. Both you and the utility company must make reasonable attempts to work together to resolve the problem.
Utility companies may require a deposit for service to ensure payment. The maximum deposit for a new or existing residential account shall not exceed the highest gross bill for any consecutive billing period (not to exceed 4 months) selected by the utility. The following rules apply to payment and refund of deposits:
- Existing Residential Service: A deposit can be requested if your service was disconnected during the last 12 months for nonpayment of an undisputed account or your initial application was falsified or incomplete.
- New Residential Service: A deposit can be requested if you incurred an unpaid gas, electric, water, or sewer utility anywhere in Wisconsin during the last six years which remains undisputed. A deposit can also be required if there is good reason to believe that you do not intend to, or will be unable to pay your bills at the time payment is due. For residential service, the deposit will be refunded, with interest, after 12 consecutive months of prompt payment.
Installment Plans and Medical Emergencies
You may use installment plans to pay what you owe your utility. They can be used for both current bills and overdue bills. A down payment and installment payments will be negotiated between you and your utility depending on your situation. If the agreed installment plans are not paid, the utility may disconnect your service. If there is a medical emergency or other crisis that prohibits you from making your payment, the utility may delay service disconnection for up to 21 days. The utility may require documentation from a professional involved with the medical emergency or crisis.
Delinquent Bills Levied as a Tax
Delinquent municipal bills may be levied as a tax.
If the utility cannot read your meter, you will get an estimated bill. To avoid estimated readings, you can read your own meter. The PSC requires utilities to make a reasonable effort to read your meter every four months if you are billed monthly or bimonthly, or every nine months if you are billed quarterly or less frequently, and when there is a change of customer. You must allow these readings or your service can be disconnected.
Your Rights as a Residential Water Customer PDF