Responsibility for care of the meter
Reference to this issue comes up in several sections with a lack of consistency in the statement of what is required. There is also inconsistency in the use of the “pit, vault, hot box” string. Sometimes all three terms appear; sometimes only two. Unless you have to repeat the ownership, care, etc. provisions as you have done, you could save yourselves some problems by dealing with these issues once or at most twice and minimizing the risk of inconsistency and misstatements. For example, Section 2 is titled Definitions and Abbreviations, but the definition of a water meter in §2.18 goes on to specify the ownership of the meter, the requirements related to the Operator’s maintenance of the meter, and the consumer’s responsibility for use and care though these same maters are covered in §§ 4.3 through 4.5. It would seem to me that it might be appropriate to cover these matters once in Section 1 Responsibility and Ownership which now does not have any provisions related to ownership of and responsibility for meters. Unless you copy and paste, repetition carries the risk of variance.
Whatever structure you use you need a clear and consistent statement of the consumer’s responsibilities of care where the meter is housed in a building and where it is housed in a pit, in a vault or in a hot box.
Right now, §§ 2.18, 3.1 and 4.3 refer to responsibility for/care of all meters regardless of where located.
2.18 – “The Consumer is responsible for reasonable care and use of the meter. Reasonable care is defined in Section 6.11 as "keepine [sic] the meter located in a clean. dry. [sic] warm, and accessible location".
4.3 – “Regardless of the location, the Consumer is responsible for the reasonable care and use of the meter. No meter shall be moved or disturbed without prior permission of the Operator.”
3.1 – “DAMAGE TO THE WATER METER: Consumers will be held responsible for damage to the Water Meter as a result of freezing, hot water, or other external causes, [sic] Other external causes is defined as any damage not related to internal meter malfunction.”
3.12 – Liability for Frozen Water Service Connections
Section 6.12 refers to responsibility and care where the meter is in a pit, vault or hot box. It provides the consumer shall:
“bear the responsibility of reasonable care and maintenance of said box or vault such as keeping it clean and dry”
As noted above, “reasonable care” is otherwise defined as “clean, dry, warm and accessible”, however.
6.12 further provides:
“The Consumer shall not cover the pit or hinder access to the water meter in any way. Covers must remain accessible at all times”
Finally, § 6.11 which appears to relate only to meters inside of a building provides
“The meter shall be located in a clean, dry, warm and accessible location”
I assume you intended the statement of responsibility in 6.12 to include a meter pit as well as a vault/box.
Assuming that the 6.11 definition of reasonable care is intended to apply only to meters in buildings, the question is what is the consumer’s responsibility in the case of meter pits, vaults or hot boxes. Is it the same for all three or does it differ depending on the nature of the device.
Is it a responsibility to keep it clean and dry? How does a consumer keep a pit, vault or hot box clean and dry? I have noticed the requirement to heat a vault, which would require a separate specification of care for that device and might make it appropriate for the consumer to be held responsible for the freezing of such device just as a consumer would be responsible for freezing within a building. But if 3.1’s and 3.12’s provisions related to damage are intended to apply to meters in meter pits or vaults, how would a consumer prevent freezing in such circumstances? And would the consumer be responsible if the pit or vault which is in the right of way is injured by some action of the Town or by another third party entering onto the right of way?
Since I don’t know your intentions I can’t suggest language. I do suggest you come up with one complete clear statement of what the consumer’s duty of care is in the case of meter pits, of vaults and of hot boxes and either just state it once or make sure it is stated exactly the same way each time it appears.
One way to deal with this might be to have a provision dealing with the reasonable care and use of a meter and then define what reasonable care and use means for meters inside a building and what it means for meters in a meter pit, in a vault or in a hot box.
Responsibility to pay for pits, vaults, boxes
§ 4.4 specifies the cost of meter pits and vaults/hot boxes are the responsibility of the consumer. § 4.3, however, states that “If a meter pit or vault is req