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Frequently Asked Questions

Under TCA §§ 7-82-403 & 7-35-414 Local Government Utilities have the power and duty to establish and maintain rates and charges sufficient to pay all reasonable expenses of operations. Rate and fee changes are generally passed by ordinance or resolution at a regularly scheduled board meeting.

While Tennessee Law does grant utilities the ability to provide leak assistance in accordance with policy, there is nothing that requires a utility to provide this service. The lines between a customer's house and their meter are still in the possession of the customer, therefore all water or gas leaks that occur after the meter are the responsibility of the consumer. If a utility chooses not to provide leak protection, all usage will be billed at the standard rate.

According to an opinion provided by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG); "state law would generally authorize the city's charging the resident a "ready to serve charge" of some minimum amount bearing a relationship to the actual cost of the water department's standing ready to serve that resident... however, charging that resident the average monthly  water service...may not be permitted as a "reasonable" or "just and equitable"  ready to serve charge." OAG 98-0152. 

Utility systems within the State of Tennessee that have issued bonds payable from sewer services, are granted authority in TCA § 7-35-201 (1) to "require the owner tenant or occupant of each lot or parcel of land that abuts upon a street or other public way containing a sanitary sewer and upon which lot or parcel a building exists for residential, commercial or industrial use, to connect the building with the sanitary sewer and to cease to use any other means for the disposal of sewage, sewage waste or other polluting matter."

The Tennessee Board of Utility Regulation does not have statutory oversight over water quality complaints. If you are having issues with the quality of your water or believe that your utility is not maintaining adequate standards, please contact the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation here: TDEC Water Resources.

The Comptroller's Office does not retain records for local utility systems. If you are seeking specific information regarding any aspect of your local utility, you must submit a public records request with the utilities governing body. If the utility system does not have a records request procedure or is refusing to comply with your request, please email our Open Records Counsel at or call 615.401.7891. You may also choose to submit an inquiry regarding open meetings or records with our online system linked below.

Utilities within the State of Tennessee who operate gas, water, or sewer system are authorized by T.C.A. § 28-3-302 & 303 to assess and collect a charge for the unpaid usage of up to 36 months prior to when the error is discovered. If the utility is able to establish a date for which the error began that is less than 36 months prior to when the error is discovered, than the utility may only issue retroactive charges for that period of time.

Pursuant to TCA § 7-35-201, Utility Systems are granted the authority to discontinue services due to non payment. Utilities do not have to reestablish service until such time as all past due service charges owed by the customer have been paid.

Utility Bill Assistance Programs:

Various programs exist in Tennessee that provide monetary assistance, please follow the links below to see what options are available in your area and if you qualify. Your local utility may also provide some from of assistance, please check with your provider to see what option are availble. 


The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury's Division of Local Government Audit keeps the annual financial reports of local governments available for public viewing at any time. You may access your utility's published annual audit here: Financial Reports

The amount of gallons that can flow through a hole in a pipe will largely depend upon the size of the hole and the pressure in the pipe. Currently, State Law requires that a minimum of 20 psi of pressure is supplied within the lines at all times for health and safety purposes, however, there are many utilities in the State of Tennessee that provide water at a higher pressure. 

As an example, a water line with a roughly 0.1" diameter hole and a pressure of 60 psi can leak over 100 gallons per hour, whereas a line with the same sized hold but a pressure of 20 psi will only leak around 30-50 gallons per hour.

Often times there will not be any visible water or soil saturation near leaks that occur between the meter and your house, this can even be the case in situations involving large volumes of water. This is often due to the rate of the leak, as well as the soil's texture, structure, and moisture content. Undetectable structures underneath the ground (i.e. caves, reservoirs, wells) can also affect the rate at which water is absorbed into the ground over a prolonged period.