OUR suspends two water meter rules for NWC

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THE National Water Commission (NWC) has been given a break from the strict guidelines which govern its handling of meter installation, repair or replacement.

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) Thursday announced that it has granted permission for the NWC to suspend, for three months, two guaranteed standards pertaining to water meters.

According to the OUR, the two guaranteed standards are WGS7 which states that the NWC should install a meter on a customer’s request, within 30 days; and WGS8, which holds the NWC to a maximum of 20 working days to verify, repair or replace a meter after being notified of a defect.

The OUR said the suspension of these two standards takes effect on April 15 and will end on July 15.

The regulatory body said it has asked the NWC to ensure that its customers are adequately notified of the suspension, prior to the effective date.

In a letter to the OUR on March 26, the NWC said the request was being made because of delays in the scheduling of meter testing dates with the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ).

The NWC said these delays have impacted the implementation of its meter procurement as well as its testing and deployment schedule, and affected its ability to adequately comply with the requirements of these guaranteed standards.

The OUR, in granting its permission, said that in January last year the BSJ had indicated that its water meter testing facilities had been taken out of service to facilitate renovation and upgrade works, in order to satisfy the requirements of the Meter Testing Administrative and Operational Protocol, 2017.

This caused delays in conducting the water meter testing necessary to inform the authorisation process for meter installations.

The OUR has also implored the NWC to fast-track the process to obtain accreditation for its water meter testing facilities, as this would assist in mitigating some of the reported effects of the BSJ’s delay.

The NWC’s meter testing facilities should have received accreditation by last October 17, but this was not achieved.

The deadline for accreditation of the NWC’s water meter testing facility is now set for May 31, and the OUR said it has urged the NWC to urgently put the required resources in place to ensure that accreditation is achieved within the revised timeline.

The guaranteed standards are performance measures which hold the NWC accountable for basic service standards to their customers. If any of these standards are breached, the affected customer is to be compensated on their next bill.

The compensation amount is equivalent to four times the applicable service charge or six times the service charge, for those in the special compensation category.

The NWC is now well into a programme to install 450,000 new static, hydrous, ultrasonic water (digital)water meters across the island.

The meters, which have been acquired by the NWC at a cost of €$37 million, will be installed over the next five years in communities mainly Kingston and St Andrew.

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