Elliot writes in what he dubs, “A Water Meter Odyssey” After hearing what he went through to not get overcharged on his water bill, fighting harpies, cyclops and hydra will sound like Mother Goose rhyme.
Even though he only had moderate usage, the water meter showed 265 gallons a day. Repeated meter replacements and entreaties to the water company were of no avail.
So Elliot switched to using a measured 5 gallon bucket of water every day for kitchen and bath sink and tub. For six months. The water meter eventually declined… to 11 gallons a day.
At the end of six months, he showed the water company the irrefutable proof that their meter was off. They agreed to repay him for several years worth of overcharging.
And now, without explanation, all billing has ceased. His water flows freely. Elliot writes:
- “There are still, what… perhaps 3 million or so NYC building owners who possibly are being gouged by their own city government. Checking water meter accuracy is an extremely difficult task for owners, because it takes a, determined person and a separate measuring system which should be maintained at least for 6 months.
I would urge anyone with the right situation, or maybe consumer groups with an empty house at their disposal to run the same test.
It would be worthwhile to see how widespread the practice of over-billing water use really is.”
Elliot’s full letter, inside.
- “When my ex-wife finally abandoned my 2 family house (she had exclusive possession) it was about the time NYC was beginning to bill water use, with meter readings every three months. Though the house had been used little as in the months my ex was in the process of moving, (no tenants) the water bill showed water use was at 165 gallons a day. The unusually high numbers continued in the following months as tenants were obtained, then it went stratospheric. A complaint was made and the water meter replaced, but the numbers remained unusually high. Nagging at me, and hoping for a time and means of checking water meter accuracy, and in order not to validate what seemed to be a fraud, none of the water bills were paid.
Several years later I had the opportunity to reside in the 1st floor apartment. A single professional fellow was the only tenant. Minding my water use, there was no watering the lawn or washing the car, yet on several billing cycles the water bill went ballistic – to 265 gallons a day. When the tenant finally moved, it was realized that the only way to check actual usage was to decant bath, bathroom sink and kitchen sink water to 5 gallon pails and using that water to flush the commode. As the system was being implemented, the heat went out during a cold snap, freezing and cracking the meter, and it was promptly replaced. Certainly my hope was that the new meter would be accurate.
For me, carefully minding the flow, a quick shower can take only about 5 gallons and, for consistency, they were kept to three a week. Bathroom and kitchen sink tasks were done at a bare minimum trickle. In all, with a number of other water saving techniques, average daily use was pared down to an average of one 5 gallon pail a day. The pattern had to be maintained for at least six months to bridge one, preferably several complete billing cycles. Water meter usage showed a fairly steady decline, finally leveling off at about 11 gallons per day. When finally doing the math, it showed the water meter was billing for about 62% more water than was being used. But even that might be low, because, there were days, weekends, periods of time I was not home. It would further take a log of those days, and to factor that into account to further refine the percent of overcharge. My unofficial figure on the overcharge is closer to 70%.
After a bit of wrangling, the department saw the light and rescinded all several years of water bills, but the questions remained, what about future billing? A few letters later, without explanation, all billing had ceased and none has been received for about the past year.
Though pleased that my situation has been addressed, but leaving me in limbo without a forthcoming policy, there are still, what… perhaps 3 million or so NYC building owners who possibly are being gouged by their own city government. What about nationwide? Checking water meter accuracy is an extremely difficult task for owners, because it takes the opportunity of one single, determined person and a separate measuring system which should be maintained at least for 6 months.
I would urge anyone with the right situation, or maybe consumer groups with an empty house at their disposal to run the same test. It would be worthwhile to see how widespread the practice of over-billing water use really is.