ELIMINATING BILLING DISPUTES: A PROVEN PROGRAM THAT PRODUCES CONSENSUS ON THE BEST AVAILABLE INFORMATION
Abstract:Establishing consistently accurate sanitary sewer bills is not only important for budgeting and fairness, but is also important for system planning and operation. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) established a technologically sophisticated and innovative program that allows all stakeholders to provide input and direction on how to develop consistently accurate billing data that is fair to all. The program consists of a set of good metering practice guidelines and separate forums for technical issues and opportunities to provide input into DWSD's policy making decisions. The program serves as a model to all service providers on how to build confidence in their data, minimize disputes, and maximize the use of their data for uses often not considered.
The GDRSS program evolved over a 10 year period, each advancement building on the success of previous activities. Today, the GDRSS program consists of several forums and detailed protocols that establish an extremely high standard for flow meter data accuracy and use for billing and planning. The effort to perform this work has more than paid for itself as billing disputes have nearly been eliminated and billed volume issues have been corrected. It is estimated that overall systemaccuracy has improved from under billing by 15% to billing accuracy to within 2.5%. This allows the operators of the collection and treatment system to focus on better overall system managementand planning. Furthermore, sophisticated methods for data correction have been established that are only possible by fully implementing this program. Finally, one of the most important outcomesofthis work is that when disputes arise, customers feel they have adequate forums to discuss concerns and ultimately feel they are dealt with fairly
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2006
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