A Water Meter Is Not an Unimpeachable Witness.
The Journal of Commerce of this city recently contained the following :
I reside in a town in Westchester County. The water company has sent a bill for the last quarter. The water charged for is greatly in excess of the quantity actually used. A careful inspection of the plumbing fails to reveal any defect. The meter records when no water is being drawn. The attention of the water company has been called to the matter, but their reply states that the record is correct and the bill must be paid as rendered. Please inform me. if I have any redress in the matter, and if so, to whom to apply. H.A. E.
Reply.—A man who has used a water company’s water must pay for it. The company must first prove, however, that he has used the amount of water for which it is demanding payment. Of this fact a meter reading may be some evidence, but this evidence is far from being conclusive. If a water meter could not be disputed it would be the only witness in the world holding that enviable position. Of course it can he disputed. The water company, in this case, will simply introduce its meter as its principal witness. Then our correspondent will show that the meter is either dishonest or mistaken, precisely as any other witness might be. If the company has any other evidence it may introduce it. The customer may introduce any evidence that he may have bearing upon the matter, and then the court or jury will decide according to its view of the weight and reliability of the evidence. Meanwhile the company must continue to furnish water. Payment is some times enforced by a threat to shut off the water if any hill that the company has seen fit to send in is not paid But a timely injunction will prevent a discontinuance of the supply. The company can compel the customer to pay as soon as it can. prove that he has used the water, and that is all that any corporation or individual can demand No corporation is allowed to decide for itself how much money it would like to have, and then call upon the citizen to pay it Our correspondent should simply refuse to pay the exorbitant bill and allow the company to sue for it.
Suit to put the Butler Water, Eight and Power Company, of Butler, Mo., into the hands of receivers or to allow the trustee, named in a deed of trust given by the company, to take charge of and operate the company’s plant, has been filed in the United States Circuit Court. The Farmers’ Loan and Trust Company of New York is the petitioner, and is also the trustee in the deed of trust which was given to secure an issue of $70,000 bonds in July, 1892. In asking for the powers of a receiver in the case, the petitioner says that the conditions are such that foreclosure under the terms of the deed of trust is not desirable. The franchise of the Butler Company has expired, the subsequent contract with the city under which the plant was operated later has also expired, and since January 1. Butler has paid nothing for water, though it has continued to use it, the petition recites.