A friend told me the other day that her mom, in Baku, Azerbaijan, had no water in her apartment. When I asked what happened, she told me that several people in the building had refused to pay their water bills. So, the state-run water company cut off everyone's water until those who had not paid, paid up.
The technique is effective, but not before everyone suffers -- including, of course, those who pay on time. My friends' mom had to do without water for nearly three weeks before her delinquent neighbors finally paid up.
While everyone has his or her own water meter in their apartment, there is only one cut-off valve -- a holdover from Soviet times -- when water was very cheap.