LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Public Service Commission (PSC) issued an order Tuesday requiring the Arnold Line Water Association to change portions of its rules and regulations to bring them into compliance with commission rules.
The ruling comes after a public hearing in January, where representatives from Arnold Line Water Association argued the PSC does not have jurisdiction over rural water associations.
"We're still not in compliance with them, and we're not going to be in compliance there," said C.R. Dixon, president and director of Arnold Line Water Association. "We don't need the public service commission to tell us what we can do and what we can't."
The PSC disagreed with Dixon and Arnold Line Water Association, saying in a news release, "while the Commission does not regulate rates of rural water associations, it does have exclusive jurisdiction over quality of service in which these suggested changes would be categorized."
WDAM 7 News requested customer complaints filed with the commission through a public records request, and found Arnold Line Water Association customers sent 100 complaints to the PSC between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2016.
"I don't know if it's confusion or a scam, but Arnold Line Water is continually disconnecting our service, even though the bills are being paid," one customer wrote.
"The Commission will continue to diligently monitor the situation at Arnold Line Water Association," Southern District Commissioner Sam Britton said. "We are committed to ensure customers are receiving satisfactory service here and across the state."
The commission's ordering the utility to address six issues:
- Arnold Line shall delete from its service rules the requirement that a customer must provide his bill or account number in order to make payment.
- Arnold Line shall remove, effective immediately, any signage from any location which states that a customer must have his bill or account number in order to make payment.
- Arnold Line shall provide notice in its Service rules that sufficiently provide notice to its customers of their right to file a complaint with the Commission in the event of a dispute concerning refusal of service.
- Arnold Line shall file a petition with the Commission within 20 days seeking approval of its cross-utility cut-off arrangement with the City of Hattiesburg, West over West Sewage...if Arnold Line fails to file this petition, Arnold Line shall delete its right to cut off water for nonpayment of sewer to the City of Hattiesburg in Arnold Line Users Agreement.
- Arnold Line and Lamar Park shall file a join petition with the Commission within 20 days requesting approval of its cross-utility cu-toff arrangement.
- Arnold Line shall submit to the Commission for approval of its rules, which have been revised with these changes within forty-five days.
Arnold Line Water Association has 15 days to file an exception, if it wishes to appeal, and the matter will be referred to the public service commissioners for review. Dixon said once the water association board officially votes, he does plan to appeal.
"I don't feel like they have the right to try to tell us what we can do and what we can't do," Dixon said. "We have to have our money."