WHO SHOULD PAY FOR METERS?
At Montgomery, Ala., there has been some controversy over the question of who shall furnish meters, the company or the consumer. There has been no final decision in the United States courts as to which should furnish the measuring appurtenances, but the highest court of England rendered a decision not long ago which shows how the English view it. The following extract is taken from the decision; “Accordingly, the question I have to determine really is this:: whether or not Mr. Bingham [a consumer] is right in his contention, whether it is Mr. Bingham’s duty at his own expense, to measure the water which istaken or whether he is accurate when he says that it rests [with the water works company alone to measure the water which they supply. Mow, the argument of counsel for the defendant has been this: You, the Water Works company, supply the water and it is to be paid for, by measurement; you are, therefore, the persons who ought to know exactly what you supply. You are the persons therefore, who ought to measure the water that you supply, and to charge me with the exact quantity of water which you so supply, and the defendant’s counsel said it was exactly similar to this; that if instead of water it had been tea, and they had been bound to supply tea at so much a pound, that they would have been asked to weigh the tea themselves and deliver so many pounds of tea, and then they would have charged for the pounds of tea which they had delivered and the purchaser would not have been put to the expense of weighing the tea.
” Now, in order that I may put as shortly and as clearly as I can the grounds of my decision, and show what I conceive to be the fallacy of this argument, 1 must just state exactly how this water is supplied. The Sheffield company are bound to put mains down in the streets; they are bound to keep those mains charged with water at high pressure, and having done that, every householder in Sheffield is free either to make use of the water in that main or decline to make use of it, as he pleases.
“ If he desires to make use of It, he himself makes the communication between his own house and the main, subject of course to all property provisions for taking care that he does no injury to the water works company in making the connection, and subject also, to this, that the connections must be properly made, so as not to abstract more water than he is entitled to take, and not do any injury of any sort or description to the water works company. For the domestic purposes he pays a rent, about which there is no dispute.
If he choses to say that he wishes to have a bath supply, he is at liberty, then, to have his bath, and on giving notice to the company, to make such a connection between the service piper and his own house and the bath as will bring the water to the bath. It is plain therefore, that the whole fallacy of the argument of thecounsel for Mr’ Kingham lies in this, that lie treats the company as supplying the water, whereas the proper thing would be to say that he is at liberty to draw off himself the water for the bath. He takes the water, it is not the company that supplies it, and if he takes the water and gives it to himself, he is the only person who can, and he is the only person who must measure the water that he so takes, and tell the company how much water he has taken.
On that simple ground I come to the conclusion that the consumer is the person who must measure the water. He is indeed the only person who can measure it, because the company do not know either at what time or under what circumstances, or in what quantity he may be minded at any moment to take the water for the use of the bath, and upon that ground, and that ground alone, I should come to the conclusion, if I had to deal with this matter as res Integra, that Air. Bingham, and every other consumer is bound bimself to measure the water which he takes, and to keep a record of it, and to inform the company how much he is liable to pay for.”
Tiic decree was finally settled in the following terms. ” That the defendant is bound at his own expense to measure accurately by some sufficient automatic and self-registering meter or other instrument or in some other equally accurate way. and to record the’amount of water token from time to time and used in such bath, and to permit the plaintiffs at all statutory times to inspect the defendants mode of measuring and the record of the quantity of water so token.”