KID plans to charge 'water off' fee

The Kennewick Irrigation District plans to start charging for turning off water to nonpaying customers.

There will be a $55 "water off" charge and a $25 charge to turn it back on once payment is made. That will be for irrigation water ratepayers who are behind on paying their assessments and for KID customers who receive potable water.

The new charges are part of a fee schedule approved by the board to try to recover costs for services done for the exclusive benefit of individual ratepayers.

The new fees will allow KID to charge for time, materials and equipment used both on service calls to individual ratepayers and for bigger repair jobs involving ponds, pumps and pipes that benefit a particular group of individual ratepayers, such as pressurized service areas.

The fee schedule also incorporates charges to people doing business at the KID office, such as applying for a water transfer or new irrigation service, or seeking permission to cross a canal or buried pipe.

Most of the fees are not new, said Chuck Freeman, district manager, but have been formally adopted for the first time in the fee schedule.

The fee schedule also specifies hourly charges for employees, supervisors and equipment that would be needed to perform services for the benefit of individual ratepayers.

Examples of equipment and labor charges are $129 per hour for a water truck, $18 an hour for an air compressor, $43 an hour for a maintenance worker and $103 an hour for a registered professional engineer.

Patrick McGuire, a board member who also is chairman of the finance committee that recommended the new fee schedule, said there had never been a clearly defined policy approved by the board.

"We never had a policy for potable water systems that said if you don't pay your bill your water will be cut off. Now we do," he said.

McGuire said there will be some delay to allow for last-minute payments to be processed and checks to clear the bank. He said the policy is intended to root out habitual nonpayers, some who have been several years delinquent in paying their bills.

Having a policy to cut off water service for nonpayment of assessments also is consistent with a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation order that says KID cannot deliver water to anyone who is in arrears on payments, McGuire said.