Water Rules & Regulations
Service Area and Provision of Water Service
Main Extensions Required
Fees Required and Definitions
High Level Fees
System Development Charges
Meter Installation and Location
Sprinkler (Irrigation) Meters
Cutoff Valves Required
Relocation of Facilities
Water Pressures and Flows
Taps and Meters Larger Than 2″
Use of Fire Hydrants To Receive Water
Backflow Prevention Required
Well Drilling Permits
Large Taps for Non-Huntsville Utilities Systems
Huntsville Utilities is authorized to provide water service only to those areas which have been annexed into the city limits of Huntsville, Alabama. Service to any other property must be authorized by the Water and Gas Board at their monthly scheduled meetings. Any persons living outside the city limits and wishing to obtain water service from Huntsville Utilities shall provide a written request to the Water Manager in order to be placed on the agenda for the next scheduled meeting. In this request, the applicant shall state all reasons and circumstances for which he feels that water service should be provided by Huntsville Utilities, along with an explanation of why the applicant cannot be annexed into the city limits.
In certain areas, particularly newly annexed lands, it may be convenient for other water suppliers to supply water to those residents within the city limits, and these arrangements will be handled by special agreements between Huntsville Utilities and the water authority which may have mains within or in close proximity to these areas. All requirements of Huntsville Utilities Main Extension Policy shall be followed, including all material requirements, aid-to-construction payments, installation specifications, access fees which may be due and any other requirements which would apply if the development were within the Huntsville Utilities water system. (Main Extension Policy, p.17)
Water service can be provided to customers within the city limits who live or own property along existing mains upon their payment of the required tapping fees and any other special fees which may be in effect for their particular location.
Whenever property is to be developed or served with water service, and existing water mains are not already installed along the frontage of the property to be served, the developer or his representative shall contact the Water Engineering section to determine whether or not water service can be provided under the Main Extension Policy, and to provide the necessary drawings and engineering information needed to estimate the aid-to-construction costs which will be required to provide water service.
Where water mains are not existing along the frontage of proposed property to be developed, regardless of the location, main extensions must be installed in accordance with the Main Extension Policy. This policy requires the developer to provide drawings and information needed for the Water Engineering section to design the main extensions which may be required. (Main Extension Policy, Part A)
3. FEES REQUIRED (AND DEFINITIONS) See Water Engineering for more detailed fees listings.
TAPPING FEES apply to meters between 5/8″ and 2″ in size, are based upon street width and are adjusted periodically to reflect the actual costs involved with service line and meter installations. In new subdivisions, service lines are installed along with the water mains before the streets are paved. Each lot has one service stubbed out at a specific location specified by the developer. The meter for this lot is therefore required to be installed at this location or else additional fees are due from the builder or owner. The existence of a stub out does not mean that tapping fees have been paid for this lot, as these installations are paid for by Huntsville Utilities in most cases, with the tapping fees being collected when lot is built upon to offset these costs.
Special fees may include any of the following:
1. HIGH LEVEL FEES – These fees are applied to each lot or unit in areas served by “high-level” water systems, which include all upper elevations where reservoirs and pumping stations have been constructed in order to provide adequate flows and pressures not available from the base level water system. These fees vary depending upon the particular system which serves each area, and are modified every few years to reflect the costs involved to serve these areas. In new subdivisions and developments, the developer is required to pay these fees in advance of construction for all proposed lots or units. Older developments and lots which have been added or divided may still have these fees due.
2. FRONTAGE FEES – These fees are assessed along frontage of property being developed on a per foot basis, and are based upon the costs of installing water mains which now serve this property. These costs were absorbed by either Huntsville Utilities or another developer at the time of main installation. There are, in most cases, refundable contracts with the original installer to recover a portion of his costs in extending these mains, usually across property outside his development.
3. SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT CHARGE (SDC) -These fees are applied to each meter to be installed in areas with water service from Huntsville Utilities. These fees are due from the developer at the time of Aid-to-Construction (ATC) payment and from the builder at the time of the meter request.
While the Application Clerks try to inform the customers of all fees during the application process, occasionally one of the special fees are missed, in which case the Water Engineering section will contact the customer to request the additional payments be made. These fees are a requirement for the installation or continuance of service, whether or not they are paid at the time of initial application.
Water meters are usually placed at or just beyond the street right-of-way. In new subdivisions where services are stubbed out, the location will be at the side property line or in the center of each lot, with locations standardized for each subdivision. Should the customer desire a different location than that which has already been established by service line stub-outs, additional tapping and relocation fees will be required. If no stub exists, the customer may pick the location along his frontage for the meter installation. If there is frontage along two streets, Huntsville Utilities may require the meter to be installed along whichever side results in the shortest length of service line in order to avoid cutting or boring of existing or proposed streets. In many commercial or industrial areas, stubs have been placed at every other lot line on lots where water mains are across the street (long side services), and for these lots the meter location is dictated by the stub location.
Water meters are placed to the grade existing at the time of installation unless other arrangements are made. Any future work required to raise or lower the meter box or service line will be billed to the customer. Likewise, any grade changes resulting from landscaping or other site work will be the customer’s responsibility.
Water meters shall not be placed in driveways or parking lots without adequate protection, and will only be allowed in these areas when no other option exists. In some cases, a simple rerouting of the service line may avoid these conflicts, particularly on long side services. All short side services under driveways shall be retapped at a location outside the proposed driveway so that any future repair work will not damage the driveway. Additional tapping fees are required in these cases, but a fee will not be required to kill the existing tap if it is in close proximity and can be easily removed by the crew installing the new tap.
Huntsville Utilities’ standard for water meters is a 5/8″ x 3/4″ meter. 1″ and larger meters are available for sprinkler systems and for homes or businesses where lower pressures exist or larger requirements for water use are anticipated.
All water usage as measured on the water meter is normally also billed as sewer consumption. In order to avoid the sewer charges on water used for irrigation purposes, separate “sprinkler meters” are often requested by the customer. These meters may be connected to the water main through an entirely separate service line, in which case a new tapping fee is required, or they may be stubbed off from an existing or proposed service line for a lesser fee. “Extra stubs” are accomplished by the installation of a tee connection in the service line directly in front of the meter and the installation of another meter immediately adjacent to the domestic meter. While both meters are connected through the same line and a pressure drop may be noticeable inside the house when running lawn sprinklers, most people choose this option and schedule their lawn sprinkling at times when inside use is minimal. Large lawn sprinkler system installations or installations where the existing meter location is undesirable for connecting to the sprinkler system often require separate taps. In either case, all sprinkling faucets or heads must be connected to the sprinkler meter, it will not detect water used from existing hose connections at the house unless these are disconnected from the house plumbing.
All sprinkler meters require the installation of a backflow prevention device in accordance with the Backflow Prevention and Cross Connection Control Rules and Regulations. Sprinkler meters and backflow prevention devices will be installed by Huntsville Utilities.
Huntsville Utilities provides all meters with a cutoff valve directly between the main and the meter so that the meter may be removed or repaired without affecting other consumers water service. In addition, current plumbing codes require a cutoff on the customer’s side of the meter for his use to make internal repairs. While Huntsville Utilities does not forbid the customer from using our cutoff to turn their service off, it is recommended that each service have their own cutoff valve as well. Huntsville Utilities will come out and repair or replace existing cutoff valves at the meter at no charge. (If the valve is operable by Huntsville Utilities crews, it will not always be replaced). Should the valve be operable, but still allowing water flow, the customer shall notify the Utilities representative when requesting the service call so that the valve will be replaced.
Adjustment of high water bills may be requested whenever the customer has a verified underground leak which is repaired by his plumber and documented evidence of this repair is supplied. Adjustments which are made involve a lowering of the rates for the excess water consumption and an appropriate reduction in the sewer bill for this same amount of consumption.
If the customer feels that his reading was in error, or that his meter is not functioning properly, he may request a reread or meter test be conducted. Should the reading be correct or the meter test show the meter to be accurate, a service charge will be applied to the account for this work. It is extremely uncommon for a water meter to register high, as they are designed to read low whenever any problem develops.
Other special rules for bill adjustments may apply, please contact the Customer Services section for details.
Customers desiring to have their meters moved or relocated shall contact the Water Engineering section so that someone may look at the request and determine the best way to proceed and what charges will apply. Minor relocations (2 or 3 feet) usually will involve only a relocation fee, while major relocations will involve tapping fees for the new location as well as a kill fee to remove the existing service tap.
Water pressures vary throughout the Huntsville Utilities water system, and are controlled by the elevation at which service is supplied and the reservoir or pumps which service this particular location. There is no one given pressure or range, but these may vary from approximately 20 psi to over 200 psi. Additionally, daily and seasonal usage patterns will cause these pressures to fluctuate within a smaller range (5-20 psi) almost continually. Pressure requirements for service are based upon average calculated pressures. No water meters will be placed at an elevation which will result in a calculated static pressure of less than 24 psi. Pressure calculations will be based upon the storage reservoir which serves the property in question at a level equal to one-half full. Any meter which is installed at an elevation resulting in a calculated static pressure of less than 35 psi will require the installation of an individual booster pump to provide adequate pressure. Any meter which is placed at an elevation resulting in a calculated static pressure in excess of 80 psi (with reservoir full) will require the installation of an individual regulator. All individual regulator and booster requirements are forwarded by the Water Engineering section to the City of Huntsville Inspection Department for their check-off during plumbing inspections. All individual booster pumps and regulators shall be installed and maintained by the customer. (Main Extension Policy, p.7)
If a customer feels that his pressure or flow is below that which he should be receiving, he should first contact the Water Engineering section. There it will be determined what his average pressure range should be and if records exist showing what flows and pressures have been measured at this location in the past. If Huntsville Utilities has an old service line or feels that there is a possible problem with our service line from the main to the meter, a pressure test request will be forwarded to the Water Operations section, who will conduct a flow and pressure test at the address requested. From this test, it can be determined if the service line going from the meter to the main needs to be replaced, or if the customer may have problems on his side of the meter. The value of 10 gpm (gallons per minute) is considered as adequate flow through a standard water meter, and the service line from the main to the meter will be replaced at no charge to the customer should the pressure test indicate flows less than this amount. Flows in excess of this amount will require the payment of tapping fees in order for Huntsville Utilities to replace their service line. Pressure and flow tests on meters larger than 1″ are handled on a case by case basis and will require the payment of fees to cover all work involved should there be no problem found with the water service being provided.
Huntsville Utilities will change out a standard residential meter and install a 1″ meter at the customer’s request, but a fee will be charged to the customer, and this service will only be provided where marginal pressures and or flows are obtained during a pressure test.
All requests for taps larger than 2″ shall go through the Water Engineering section. Drawings will be required, which shall show the location of the tap, the building to be served and other site details as may be required to design and estimate the proposed installation. Adequate information must be provided for analysis of backflow prevention required and the location of the required devices for this function. Each request will be estimated by the Engineering section based upon time and materials required for the installation of the taps, meters, backflow preventers, fire hydrants, main extensions and/or other materials required.
Huntsville Utilities maintains a somewhat standard installation configuration for large meters and backflow devices, but the customer may elect to construct and install his own custom vaults or enclosures for these purposes. The Engineering section can assist in this design and installation, and must approve vault sizes and configurations in these cases.
All requests for fireline and large meter installation estimates shall be made well in advance of the date needed for bid openings or pricing information. There are often several details which must be worked out in order to provide a detailed cost estimate, and often there are several estimates being requested. These requests are acted upon on a first come, first served basis. Phone quotes will not be given for these types of work, all estimates must be picked up in person or will be faxed to those who request this information.
All firelines which include private fire hydrants must be constructed of materials as approved for Huntsville Utilities water mains, up to and including all fire hydrants, and must be inspected by Huntsville Utilities as if a main extension. In addition, all plans shall be approved by the Fire Department for fire hydrant locations. Firelines which have backflow preventers installed at a location other than the tap from the water main shall also be constructed of approved materials and inspected as a standard main extension up to the point where the backflow preventer is installed. (Main Extension Policy, p.19)
All firelines require the completion of a Fireline Application by the building owner before the work order will be activated. Any installations of mains, meters or other appurtenances outside the public rights-of-way will require easements on Huntsville Utilities approved forms, and will require the property owner to sign an Agreement for Location of Utilities on Private Property. All of these forms are available at the Water Engineering offices.
In certain cases, fire hydrants may be used to obtain water for swimming pools, construction operations and other uses. Such use of fire hydrants is strictly prohibited without express permission from the Water Department, and shall be in full compliance with the Fire Hydrant Use Policy. Permits are required, and meters shall be used installed upon the fire hydrants to be used whenever possible.
All uses of water shall be in compliance with the Backflow Prevention and Cross-Connection Control Policy of Huntsville Utilities. Backflow preventers are required on all fireline connections, sprinkler meters, pumped systems, high-rise buildings, hospitals, clinics, labs and many other facilities where there may be a possibility of backflow or backsiphonage which could contaminate the public water supply.
As a rule, well drilling permits will not be granted for any reason wherever water service from a public water system can be made available. In rare instances, and only in isolated areas where water service cannot be made available, will a permit to drill a well be granted.
Huntsville Utilities will make large taps (up to 12″) for other utilities or contractors in some instances. These taps will be billed at the current established rates for large taps, which are divided into two categories, those within the Huntsville Utilities system and those which are outside our system. All taps outside our system require the completion of a liability release by the owner of the mains to be tapped. The contractor shall supply and install the tapping sleeves and valves (valves must have full port openings), after which Huntsville Utilities will make the tap. Any delays will be billed to the contractor or applicant for these services.
For more information about any of the referenced Policies or documents, contact Water Engineering at 535-1400 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office is located at 112 Spragins St.