Village gets new water law: Proposed change would update 1967 ordinance

T he village has taken steps to clarify and update a 45-year-old law governing its water system.

The Village of Whitehall Water System Local Law delineates the rights and responsibilities of any person or business that uses municipal water, and gives the village authority to shut off a person’s water for noncompliance.

If approved, the law will repeal and replace an existing water ordinance that has been in place since 1967.

“It’s been updated to reflect today’s times,” said Ken Bartholomew, village trustee. “There were some things in the old law that weren’t clear and this should clarify those things.”

Bartholomew said the new law more clearly defines the village’s authority to read and service meters as well as turn off service and expands on the previous law and “puts everything in one place.”

It also addresses a number of problems the village has been combating over the last year, including unmetered hook-ups that make it impossible for the village to determine how much water each user consumes.

A state audit released by the comptroller’s office earlier this year revealed that the village was losing a significant amount of treated water and while damaged and leaky pipes can be blamed for some of the loss, meterless hook-ups also played a role.

The new law states that no water shall be furnished to any consumer unless that property has a water meter in good working order. Consumers must also provide a “suitable location” for the meter that can be inspected and ready by a village representative “at any reasonable hour during the business day.” If access cannot be gained, the village will send a written notice to the user and they will have five days to notify the village clerk when access to the meter will be available. If a person does not comply with the notice, the village has the right to charge a monthly rate or discontinue the service altogether.

Consumers will be responsible for installing and maintaining any service pipe from the curb stop to the home. The village is responsible for only the meter, from the curb stop to inside the property.

If a user’s supply pipes are deficient in any way, the village will send a written notice to the owner notifying them to repair the problem with a period of 10 days. If the repairs are not made, the village will have the authority to make the repairs at the user’s expense.

The law also gives the village authority to discontinue service for reasons of nonpayment.

The village has the right to shut off water to any users whose bill remains unpaid for 90 days and water service will not be restored until the bill has been paid in full, as well any costs incurred by the village shutting the service off.

The village reserves the right to discontinue service for any reason to any users outside the village. The village must provide 60 days of notice of their intent to shut off service for any reason other than nonpayment.

The law also gives the village authority to shut off or regulate water to protect the water system and ensure compliance with state or federal laws.

The board, which has been working on the law with its attorney for the last several months, finalized the nine-page bill during last week’s board meeting and will hold a public hearing on the law at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 16. It’s expected the board will vote on the law following any public comment.

A copy of the law can be viewed at the village offices.

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