This is general information; not advertising, solicitation, or legal advice. If you have a legal question, please contact a lawyer in your state to protect yourself. Do not rely on anything you read here, especially in lieu of contacting a lawyer directly. Every case is different, and every case turns on its own individual facts.
This office has developed expertise in the area of securing water utility rights for consumers who have been unjustly denied access by various publicly owned utility companies. In smaller cities and communities, at least in Southeastern Ohio, you are reminded of the ignorance and bigotry of rural Mississippi during the civil rights struggle of the sixties. The discrimination is, as it was then, against the poor. The petty bureaucrats and clerks who are in-charge of these publicly owned utility companies enjoy running roughshod over the poor. This often takes the form of denying service to people who move into a residence where the previous occupant didn't pay a bill. The genuises who run these operations take the position that service should not be restored until the current tenant pays that bill regardless of the fact that the new tenant had no connection with prior usage or user.
On other occasions, a new tenant who is required to pay for the water service by his landlord and who wishes to establish service in his or her name will be required to get the landlord to sign a guarantee of payment. Of course, many landlords are extremely eager to do this and this never presents a problem. On other occasions the water is turned-off without any notice or due process. We have recently filed a lawsuit where the Clerk turned-off a consumer's water when she was a few days late in paying. When asked why, she responded that "you were late this month and since welfare paid it for you last last month and couldn't pay it again, we assumed it wouldn't be paid this month." No notice was given before turning-it-off.
Lawsuits have frequently been filed which have resulted in consent decrees. Consent decrees are signed but ignored. It presents some very frustrating situations. Much could be accomplished if only the newspapers in these communities would do their job by publishing stories of these suits and the results. Instead, they report nothing. One local newspaper printed that a community was about to formulate new water policies and regulations yet, incredibly, never reported that the community was under a Court ordered consent decree.
Fortunately, there are the "statewide" newspapers covering these same communities which report this information and have even taken these communities to task for their "foolish" practices editorial.