By Tia Lyons
The process of opening a new account with the El Dorado Water Utilities has been streamlined as part of an ongoing effort to improve customer service, city officials said.
The action was taken in response to complaints, some lodged by members of the El Dorado City Council, about the information that was required to set up a new account with the EWU.
Several aldermen have previously homed in on some of the procedures and documents, including property deeds, that were requested by the EWU in order for an established customer to prove ownership in opening an account for a rental property.
EWU employees have said such rules are in place to determine the rightful property owner, explaining that the policy is helpful in instances of a property dispute, such as one that could arise in the event of a divorce.
The Department of Public Works, working with the EWU and city officials, have taken steps to address the complaints by amending the policy.
Now, information that is required to establish new service at the EWU includes:
• The name and address that will appear on the account.
• The account holder’s mailing address
• Contact number
• Credit card number
• Social Security number
It is first policy change that has been enacted at the EWU since utility operations were moved under the oversight of the Department of Public Works.
On July 17, the city council abolished the El Dorado Water and Sewer Commission, which had overseen EWU operations for decades.
City officials cited ongoing issues and complaints they had heard from citizens and/or experienced themselves and said the commission had not addressed the complaints to the council’s satisfaction.
Aldermen have also created a Water Advisory Board that will work with the public works
department to cover the entire scope of EWU operations.
With the implementation of the advisory board still in its early stages, Mayor Frank Hash said the city council is, “in effect, the water utility commission.”
Aldermen Billy Blann, Dianne Hammond and Judy Ward previously pointed to issues they experienced in trying to set up a new account as established customers of the EWU.
“These are some of the changes we’ve made. There had been complaints about the process and all the paperwork that was needed to get your water turned on,” Hammond said.
“Now, you don’t have to have all that. You can even do it on the phone. You don’t have to go down there in person,” she said.
Robert Edmonds, director of public works, and Buddy Kinney, director of operations for the EWU, have said that while some of the requirements are being relaxed for established customers, the overall policy to establish new service will remain in place and the rules enforced as applicable.
Kinney is also interim general manager of the EWU, having been appointed to the position after former EWU general manager Mark Smith resigned in in the wake of the dissolution of the water and sewer commission.
Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or tlyons@ eldoradonews.com.