Water distribution companies

In 1914, the legislature granted the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) jurisdiction over water systems located on public ways. In 1962, the legislature extended DPU jurisdiction to water systems located on private ways. A water corporation or company is: "every person, partnership, association or corporation, other than a municipal corporation, and other than a landlord supplying his tenant, engaged in the distribution and sale of water in the Commonwealth through its pipes or mains." G.L. c. 165, § 1. DPU-regulated water systems can be: (1) small companies with a few customers, or (2) large companies with thousands of customers. DPU does not regulate: (1) City and town-owned water systems, because they are municipal corporations. G.L. c. 165, § 1. Note: The city or town-owned water system addresses any disputes from a customer. (2) Self-governing water and fire districts created by special acts of the General Court, unless specified in the district's enabling act. For example, some special acts authorize DPU to resolve a price disagreement between two municipalities. Note: These districts file their rates with DPU for informational purposes. G.L. c. 165, § 2A. (3) Homeowner associations providing water service, unless they supply water to non-members. In those cases, DPU limits its oversight to only those non-member customers. Note: Water systems operated by these associations may be organized as nonprofit corporations.
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