Imagine arriving at your brand new home to find that there’s no running water! Don’t panic. You just need to set up a water service or utility with your local water company! According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), 84% of the U.S. population relies on a water utility to supply their homes, while the rest get their water from private groundwater wells. Avoid this unpleasant situation and learn how to set up water service for your home by following the simple steps outlined below!
What You Need to Apply
In the United States, water utility services generally require that the contracting party be the owner of the property requesting service. If you plan to rent a house or an apartment, the landlord typically provides water utilities. Nonetheless, it’s important to check your lease agreement as it may not be included in some instances.
If you are in the process of purchasing a home, you'll have to establish water service yourself. We recommend asking your real estate agent or the previous homeowner about water utility services available in your area. You can also Google the term "Water Supplier," followed by the name of your city to find a company in your area.
Once you know which company provides water and sewer service in your location, you should contact them to ask what information is needed to start a new service contract. The most common requirements for setting up your water service are:
- An application with information about yourself and home (Check out an example here from the North Alamo Water Supply Corporation)
- Proof of homeownership by attaching a copy of the deed
- A copy of your identification (State ID or Driver’s License)
- Your Social Security Number (SSN)
Keep in mind: As the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website mentions, contracting utility services, such as water supply, is the equivalent to applying for credit. This is due to the fact that utilities are charged one month after consumption. For this reason, having a good credit score can help you in the process of contracting water service.
How to Establish a Water Service Contract
In general, there are two types of ways you can establish a water service contract for your home: 1) transferring the service from a previous owner or 2) setting up a new utility agreement.
If your home is new construction or has been uninhabited for a while, you'll need to apply as a new customer with your local water company. Before the company can connect your home to the public water system, they must first perform an inspection to make sure that everything is in order.
If you’re purchasing a previously inhabited home, it’s more than likely that the previous owner will have a water service already set up and you will just have to transfer the service to your name. In order to do this, the previous owner must contact the water company, settle any outstanding debt and initiate the process of transferring the service to you. Once the transfer process is complete, all consecutive water bills will be in your name.
Understanding Your Water Bill
With thousands of independent water utility companies established in the United States, there are thousands of ways to charge for this basic service. In general, these companies send you a monthly bill that includes your household's water consumption for a period of time.
Rates may be fixed by general consumption levels or based on your specific consumption for the month. It's also common for water rates to have a tiered pricing system to encourage water conservation, meaning households that consume more water will pay a higher price per gallon. Check out this example of how a water bill is broken down from an Austin, TX water company. This company uses both a five-tier fixed charge rate and a five-tier volume charge rate.
Keep in mind: Because there isn’t one set pricing system for water companies, it’s important to approach your provider and ask them to explain their pricing system. Remember that water conversation is not only good for your wallet, but for the planet!
Is Tap Water in the United States Safe to Drink?
In 1974, the U.S. Government passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). This law authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set minimum standards to ensure that the water coming into your home is safe for human consumption and requires all owners or operators of public water systems to meet these standards. This means that tap water in the U.S. is among the safest in the world to drink!
Drinking Water Hotline
If you have any questions about the quality of the water you receive at home, you can call the EPA's Drinking Water Hotline. They’ll answer your questions about drinking water in the country and respond to your complaints if your service has problems.
How to Reconnect Water Service
Non-payment of your water service or any outstanding debt can result in having your water shut off. If this ever happens to you, we recommend contacting your provider immediately to pay off any outstanding bills, including any penalties incurred, and ask for reconnection of your service. If you're unable to pay your debt in full, you may be able to work out a payment arrangement to cover your debt in installments while you continue to have water service.
Help Protect and Conserve Water
Water is one of the most important natural resources on Earth and it’s critical for everyone in our community to do their part to take care of it. Take action towards water conservation and visit here to find ideas on how to save water at home.Remember that knowledge is power and the team at SABEResPODER is here to support you. If you have any questions about setting up water service at home or any other topic on our website, contact our team of experts!