• To define the basic rules for service installation, ownership, and maintenance
  • To define the extend of OWU’s responsibility for repair of multiple service lines (MSL).
  • A list of Definitions is listed on page 2 of  “Conditions of Service”


     In our water system, OWU owns the source, the filter plant, storage tanks and water mains. Members own their service lines.  Each party is responsible for maintaining their respective portion of the piping system.  OWU sets standards for materials, installation, and water use practices to be followed by the member because all water pipes in the system are interconnected and what happens on one property may have an adverse effect on other properties.

     Existing installations that are replaced for any reason are subject to these policy guidelines.  Simple repairs to an existing system not requiring alteration or total replacement from the Corp Stop (main) will be exempt.  This policy will bring the OWU system into compliance with the Washington Department of Health water system guidelines over time.

     Due to the rural character of our service area and the general absence of public roads servicing our members, service line ownership is difficult to define in terms of property lines or public streets.  In general, each member is served from OWU mains via a member-owned individual service line, which extends from the main, wherever it may lie, to the members point of use.  In some cases, neighbors agreed to pool their resources by installing a multiple service line (MSL) to efficiently overcome problems of terrain or distance from the OWU mains.  Sometimes these agreements were documented, but in most cases they were not.  This may create confusion in later years when the MSL needs repair or when certain properties change hands.  If at all possible such MSLs should be documented, at owner’s expense, and submitted to OWU using our Multiple Property Service Line Agreement.

     To resolve possible ambiguities and to insure fair treatment, this policy sets forth applicable maintenance and ownership standards related to water service lines that are consistent with general industry practice, past OWU policies, known agreements and OWU bylaws.

     The following provisions do not apply in the case of emergency where OWU determines that the problem, if uncorrected, would result in extensive property damage or compromise of the OWU system whether in quantity or quality of water.  In such an event, the member is held responsible for the entire cost of such OWU assistance.  Damage to the member’s property resulting from prudent work efforts by OWU shall be the responsibility of the member.  Such OWU assistance will be the least amount required to control the emergency, such as closing down valves on OWU mains or on the service line.  Depending upon available resources, OWU may make minimal or temporary repairs necessary to control the emergency leaving the complete repair up to the member.  In some cases, OWU may simply shut off the water to the property.  In such events, those acting for OWU are authorized to cap or otherwise block the troubled service connection.



A property served by OWU is required to have the service line between and including the connection to the OWU main and the member’s meter installed using OWU supplied materials, in accordance with OWU specifications, and inspected by OWU before covering.  The member is strongly urged to use the same materials and specifications for the remainder of the service line from the meter to the dwelling to insure reliable performance.

The meter shall be installed as close to the main as is practical.  All water using devices on the  service line must be metered.  The meter is NOT the Corp Stop.

The service line generally includes the tap (or “corporation stop”) or tee on the OWU main, a piping system, shut-off valve(s), a meter/pressure reducing valve setting, and additional piping into the property or dwelling.  In the case of an MSL, the affected members have a joint responsibility for the common portion of the service line.

The member pays for all costs for materials and installation of the service line from the main (Corp Stop) to the dwelling.

The member is responsible to insure easy access to the meter such as by maintaining an access lane in a grassy state, not fencing in the meter, keeping debris off of the meter, and so forth.  No permanent structure may be built over the portion of the service line easement between the main and the meter.

The OWU service area is rural, the mains are rarely in the public right-of-way, and property lines are difficult to determine, so the member is responsible for supplying OWU with an “as-built” record of the service line to enable OWU to provide assistance to the member or subsequent owners of the membership in the event of repair or emergency.

In the event that a portion of the service line does not lie in a county right-of-way and/or the member’s property, the member is responsible for securing and recording easements from the intervening owners.


The member pays for and owns the service line and the meter box setting.  The initial meter is paid for by the member but is owned by and supplied by OWU.  Any replacement meter is paid for and owned by OWU.  OWU is solely responsible for the maintenance, removal and installation of the replacement meter.  The customer is responsible for providing a meter setting that will deep the meter from freezing, flooding, traffic damage or other harm.

In some cases, two or more members share a service line to enable those members to economically install water lines (at shared members expense) without the need to install full diameter water mains.  These pipes are called “Multiple Service Lines” or MSL.

The following are characteristics of a MSL:

  • It starts at the junction with an OWU-owned main. (Corp Stop)
  • It is generally 2″ or less in diameter.
  • It is not looped with other water mains or other sources of water.
  • It was not installed as part of a documented water main extension project that was funded by OWU.
  • There is no documentation that the pipe was ever dedicated to and accepted by OWU.
  • The ownership is not otherwise covered by a written understanding or agreement between the benefiting members and OWU assigning ownership to OWU.

When the above characteristics exist, it is understood that such pipes are MSL’s. In these cases, the benefiting members are considered the joint and equal owners of the common line and equally responsible for its maintenance.  OWU will not permit more hookups on this MSL than good engineering practice would allow, and depending on availability and by application for service.  Maintenance and operation of these MSL must conform to accepted standards as defined by OWU in order that standards of service are maintained.

OWU requires that all such MSLs be covered by a written Multiple Property Service Line Agreement among all of the benefiting members in order to avoid confusion and dispute in the event of a need for repair, replacement, or the addition of new members.  No such agreement shall conflict with OWU or State standards for mains.  OWU will assist the affected members in writing this agreement.

Maintenance of Service Lines:

OWU will maintain and replace water meters as required without cost to the members unless such replacement is due to freezing or other such damage resulting from the member failing to protect the meter as mentioned above.

Members are entirely responsible for the prompt repair and maintenance of the service line with the exception of the meter.  All members are required to install a standard meter setting after January 1, 2002.


Any meter that is plumbed in such a way as to prevent the removal or service of the meter without proper swivel couplings or unions must be properly re-plumbed at the member’s cost. OWU will perform the work if the member fails to do so within 7 calendars days after being notified of a deficiency.  Any service line that cannot be controlled without shutting down a water main will have a proper service line valve installed at the member’s expense and as part of the shut down event.  Only OWU personnel may shut down an OWU-owned water main.

OWU employees, officers or others acting for the association are prohibited from maintaining, servicing, or replacing member-owned service equipment including MSLs. Any person working on a member’s equipment is expressly considered to be operating in a private capacity and both the person and member must recognize that the OWU is not involved in or responsible for any aspect of the activity other than the establishment of appropriate standards for materials, installation, and water use practices.

Adopted by motion of the OWU Board of Directors on February 17, 2017


Mark Mayer, President

Revised June 14, 2017