Next time I’ll know
|Authority||Comptroller of Water Rights|
Zach’s water supplier, a private utility, applied to the Comptroller of Water Rights, seeking to increase customer water rates. In the process of considering the request, the comptroller conducted a public hearing through a written hearing process that took place over several months.
Zach believed the comptroller allowed the utility to skirt questions raised by him and other homeowners. He also believed the hearing process favoured the utility by extending the period of time for the utility to respond to information requests and not automatically extending the same courtesy to the utility customers. Zach thought the hearing process lacked fairness and transparency, so he contacted us.
We requested and reviewed the comptroller’s information about the written hearing process. The process gave the utility an opportunity to present its evidence in support of its application and gave water utility users the opportunity to express their views and question the utility before the decision was made. A right of review was also available to the utility and to the users through the comptroller’s reconsideration process.
While we determined that the comptroller conducted a fair and reasonable hearing process to reach a decision on the rate increase application, our investigation determined there was no public information available about the hearing process. This meant there was no way for Zach and other affected homeowners to inform themselves about the process. Without this information they did not know what to expect or how to prepare.
As a result of this investigation and Zach’s complaint, we suggested that the comptroller publish written information explaining the hearing process. The Public Water Utility Written Hearing Process Bulletin is now provided to utility users and can be found on the environment ministry’s website: www.env.gov.bc.ca/wsd/water_rights/water_utilities/bulletins/
|Category||Housing and Property|