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Water service in Ohio FAQ

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) regulates investor-owned water companies throughout the state. Included in this regulation are certain standards that apply to water supplied to you as a customer. The standards are put in place as a way to provide consumers with the best water quality and service possible. Below are some of the more frequently asked questions regarding water service here in Ohio.

My water/sewer service provider is a (city/county/district/cooperative) and I have service/rate-related questions. Who do I contact?

Your utility bill should include a customer service number that you can call to discuss your issues.  If you cannot obtain the information you are seeking, you can possibly contact one of the following depending upon the service provider type:

City – City Councilman, Mayor, and/or Service Safety Director depending upon government type.

County – County Commissioners

Water and/or Sewer District – Customers of these entities may want to refer to Chapter 6119 of the Ohio Revised Code prior to contacting the district's governing board.

Cooperative – (not-for-profit water/sewer companies owned by the company’s customers) Typically governed by a board and have articles of incorporation filed with the secretary of state as well as bylaws that detail how the entity functions. Customers may want to refer to these documents prior to contacting the board.

There is a leak in my line, am I responsible for its repair?

The customer service line runs from the curb stop, or service shutoff (usually located near the customer’s property line) to the premises served. It is your responsibility to maintain it as well as all the piping within the structure served. All other lines are the water system's responsibility.

Although the water system usually owns the customer meter, you are responsible for any meter damage that may incur. This is particularly true where meters are located in meter pits (usually near the property line). In such cases, you are responsible for both the pit and the meter. These meter settings are often used for structures with no basements (slab homes). Customer service line leaks/breaks on the backside of meter settings (pits) cannot go ignored since the bill will be based on the water that went through the meter.

My water is rusty /discolored, what do I need to do?

If water pressure is significantly lower than normal in addition to discolored, do not consume any water until after first discussing your service situation with your water company. In any event, contact the utility to make them aware of your service problem. Your discolored water may be due to routine system flushing maintenance in your area a program which you should have received advance notice of. If this is the case, then water should clear after a short period of water usage. Do not wash laundry under such conditions.

If the company confirms that no system flushing or water line break has occurred, inquire if the water company treats for iron or manganese (does treatment include filtration or does water system feed a phosphate to keep these minerals suspended in the water?). If yes, ask if they are having treatment problems? If no (or yes), request that the water system investigate your problem and possibly flush the distribution system in your area after notification to all customers who may be affected.

If your water service is routinely discolored and you are also unhappy with water hardness, and the company's treatment does not include filtration or softening, then you may want to install a softening system. Softeners will eliminate iron problems to a degree.  If you are happy with your water hardness, you may want to consider various residential filtration systems.

My water pressure is much lower than normal. What should I do?

Water systems must maintain a minimum pressure of 20 pounds per square-inch (psi) in their distribution system to ensure that groundwater cannot enter the system.  If you believe your water pressure may be lower than 20 psi, do not consume any water until after first discussing your service situation with your water company.

My water is very hard. What can I do?

The ions from the minerals calcium and magnesium typically cause water hardness. If your water service provider provides softened water, inquire if they are having treatment problems. Softened water should range between 120 to 150 mg/l (79 grains) hardness. If your service provider does not provide softened water, you may consider purchasing a water softener.

I am a customer of a PUCO regulated water / sewer company. Why are my rates different than neighboring non-PUCO regulated systems?

There are many variables (system size, age of rates, and treatment complexity to name a few) that make it nearly impossible to make an "apples to apples” rate comparison between systems, regardless of ownership type (municipal, county, private for-profit, etc.). However, PUCO regulated water & wastewater systems, unlike municipal, county, cooperatives and regional water and/or sewer districts, are typically operated as for-profit corporations and, as such, pay income tax based upon their sales, and other financial variables.

Why is my sewage bill based upon my water usage? Some of the water I use for car washing and gardening does not return to the sanitary sewer. Why can't I have a deduct meter installed to measure the water that doesn't return to the sanitary sewer and be billed for only the water that does enter the sewer system?

Water and to a larger extent wastewater system rates are based heavily on fixed costs and a certain amount of revenue must be collected to meet these costs. In other words, whether 500 gallons or 5,000,000 gallons of wastewater enters a sanitary system, the piping must be in place, the treatment plant blowers must operate continuously and bills must be issued. If all customers were equipped with a deduct meter, the operating expenses would increase since an additional meter (deduct meter) would need to be read, and the above-described fixed costs would not change. Therefore, presently the PUCO-regulated wastewater companies do not offer deduct meters nor does the PUCO advocate such service.