Can my water company turn off my water if I do not agree to pay for an equipment upgrade?

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Can my water company turn off my water if I do not agree to pay for an equipment upgrade?

My town water department wants me to upgrade to a new automatic read meter. The cost is $50, but I have been unemployed and believe that there are other bills more important than this. They want me to call the office (2nd notice) to avoid interruption of water service. I am current with my bills, I have never been late, but they want to turn off my service if I don’t pay the $50. Can they legally do this to me?

Asked on May 20, 2011 under General Practice, New York

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You need to contact the entity in your state who handles public utilities and public service complaints. You need to find out why the need for an equipment upgrade, then why you need to pay for it and why now. If there is an appeal process or a denial process, go through it. The city cannot simply shut off your water due to a non emergency upgrade. Contact the state's attorney general (not the town's attorney) and file a complaint immediately. If you are unemployed, also immediately contact legal aid. If it is occurring to you, it may be occurring to others and legal aid if they take the case might be able to get to the bottom of this. Have the town work for the money. Tell it to submit the state or town codes requiring this upgrade and requiring you to cover the cost, especially when you can show you have paid on time.


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