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 a specialty and expertise in the area of securing and protecting water utility rights for consumers who have been unjustly denied access to service or had their service disconnected by various water utility companies in violation of Due Process or Equal Protection of the Law. In rural towns and communities, at least in Southeastern Ohio and Southern Indiana, you are reminded of the bigotry of the rural South 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 given power and who are in-charge of these utility companies enjoy running roughshod over the powerless. We have frequently seen a denial of service to a new tenant who moves into a residence where the previous occupant may not have paid a bill. The people in-charge often take the position that service should not be provided until the new tenant pays that bill regardless of the fact that he or she had no connection with prior usage or user. Or you may have a situation where a utility refuses to provide service unless a landlord guarantees payment of a water bill. Not that many landlords are anxious to do that. Such denials can invoke the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
On other occasions the water is turned-off without any notice of the right to dispute and/or to request a hearing prior to disconnection. This invokes the Due Process Clause of the 5th and 14 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. In one case a Clerk turned-off a consumer's water when she was a few days late in paying. When asked why, she responded "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 against those cities, towns and villages. Unfortunately, consent decrees are signed but often ignored. It presents some very frustrating situations. Much could be accomplished if only local newspapers in these communities would take an interest in reporting stories if these abuses. Instead, they typically 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 certain "statewide" newspapers covering these communities which report this information to their readers and have even taken these communities to task for their "foolish" practices.