If I Used 200 Gallons Of Water Per Day, I Think I Would Notice

What’s wrong with Arif’s water meter? He and his fiancée use a modest amount of water, but the local water authority claims that the two of them are somehow using 200 gallons per day. If this seems like it should be a straightforward problem to fix…well, you’ve never had to deal with a local water authority.

He seeks advice from readers who have been in a similar situation.

Dear Consumerist and fellow consumers,

I’m writing to get you opinion on a billing issue I’m having with my water authority.

My fiancé and I purchased our first home back in June of 2009. Since the day we received our first water bill, we had been suspicious of the amount of water we were supposedly consuming. Before I start regurgitating numbers, you should be aware that it is just me and my fiancé in the home. We are not home between the hours of 6 am to 5 pm on the weekdays. We have low flow shower heads and low flow faucets, along with water conserving toilets. We don’t take baths and usually stick with quick, 15 min showers. We own a front loading washing machine that we run 2 times a week, and a dishwasher that we run once a week. We don’t water our lawn and we don’t have a pool. Ohh, we also don’t have a leak anywhere in the home!! So keeping this mind, we somehow have been consuming 18K gallons of water a quarter according to our water authority.

The number was always suspicious to me, but I never thought much about it until June of this year when I had begun talking to my neighbors and it was also this quarter that we had taken a 2 week vacation where no one was home. I figured being out for 2 weeks should make a difference in our bill. After all, 18K gallons a quarter is approximately 200 gallons/day. Well you could imagine my surprise when I received my bill in June of this year that we were still billed for 18K gallons.

I politely called the water authority to explain to them my concern. The woman on the other end was incredible nice and said that they could have a technician come out. In-fact they were so nice, when asked “how soon?” she replied “whenever is convenient for you.” I was shocked, a company that actually treats humans as human being!

I scheduled a service at my convenience and the technician arrived at the quoted time (and no they did not quote me a 9-5 time frame). The technicians looked at the meter, removed it and did something to it. He said “yea, this is not working right.” A sigh of relief went through my veins and I patted myself on the back for not being delusional (mentally, not physically). Finally an explanation to the faulty meter!

The technician said that I would need to contact the office to see if a refund was due and what to do from here. I said no problem and he was on his way.

I stopped into the office to talk to them about my water bill. Here is where the tide turned. The supervisor of the water authority was immediately in the defensive, like I was there to take her first born. She accused me initially of trying to cover up a water leak, then manipulating the meter myself, to finally giving me a chance to speak. I explained to her my water usage, and she still did not budge. They remotely read my meter and told me that since my last reading, my new meter had registered me at 1.3K gallons in 7 days. I said this makes absolutely no sense, I told her when I looked at the meter this morning it read “130.” She brought in her manager who reviewed the readings…turns out the supervisor had no idea where the decimal point on the meter was supposed to go!! She offered no apology and went back the water leak theory. I promptly asked her why the technician decided to replace my meter if there was a water leak? Wouldn’t that mean then that the water meter was reading accurately?

Finally, after some going back and forth, the manager agreed that something doesn’t make sense here and that the meter may in-fact be the problem. He said, politely, let’s monitor your consumption for the next quarter and see where we are. He continued by saying that if a credit should be due at the time, they would base it on my reading at the end of the upcoming quarter. I happily agreed and left.

Well I received my new water bill, and I’m happy to say the new bill was for 4K gallons; which made a lot more sense based on our lifestyle.

So today I stopped by their office, and they have now changed their tune. They are telling me that they need to wait for another 2-3 quarters before they issue any type of credit. I felt a gasket go off in my mind, and I said (politely) that I was disappointed and wanted to speak with the manager. Turns out he was not in today and will call me back. So now I’m stuck with paying my next bill which is due Monday the 15th, while they sit and ponder some more, after they told me that they would need a single quarter to made a decision on my credit amount.

So I need your help. What should I do? Should I try to fight back and resist waiting another 2-3 quarters (6 to 9 months)? I noticed that their bill states that a 15% penalty will be imposed on bills that are late; can I impose this 15% on them for holding my money ransom and going against their initial agreement?

Thanks for your help!

Comments

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  1. JoeDawson says:

    Can these be taken to small claims court? You would need a preponderance of evidence on your side, but who knows?

    • sirwired says:

      Agreed. Small Claims time. This is the EXACT sort of thing it’s made for.

    • skylar.sutton says:

      Agreed. I am not a lawyer but…

      Run the calculations to figure out how much you were overcharged for (18k-4k x # of quarters x price per gallon)… then triple it. (Check your state law, but my state allows you to sue for triple the incurred damages in these types of claims).

      Get the small claims paperwork ready, but don’t file it. This way you have a leg to stand on when the manager calls you back. If they can’t make it right, it should only cost you a few bucks and a few minutes to run down to the courthouse and file the paperwork.

      I don’t agree with the overly litigious society we live in… but the reality is this is the only way for the little guy to get what’s owed now-a-days.

    • Gulliver says:

      Before jumping to small claims, you need to see how yoru water authority is structured. Is it a municipal service? Private? Quasi governmental? This will make a HUGE difference in how you need to proceed. I’d also say this is another instance where privatization sucks for consumers. Nobody has competition in water service, in much the same way you don’t truly have it in gas or electric, yet we pretend to say it is a private company.

    • trentblase says:

      If you want a less direct route, try to find out when the statute of limitations would run. Then use that to give them a deadline, maybe something like “Please see if you can correct this by X, because the deadline for me to file suit is Y and I really don’t want it to come to that, but I don’t make the deadlines” This will let them know you are serious without being overly litigious. It may not work if the SoL is many years.

  2. Dre' says:

    Call the public service commission & then watch the utility break it’s neck getting you your money back.

    • EmDeeEm says:

      This. Has worked everytime for me. The last thing they want is the Public Utility Commission on their back.

    • MitchV says:

      Yes – what Dre’ said. I went through this with my gas utility… I had a faulty meter and it took 4-5 letters and months of fighting, but they finally submitted to logic and I won.

      Also, they can’t shut off your service while there is an ongoing dispute. That being said, I suggest you continue to pay your water bill since the should now result from an accurate reading.

    • officeboy says:

      Gulliver above had the right idea. Depending on the way the utility is structured or setup the utility commission may have no authority. It does for private utilities (gas and electric), but a lot of water systems are public and are run much like a small city. The only thing you can get a public utility in trouble for is breaking the statutes (laws) that are setup to regulate them (there usually aren’t many).

  3. rpm773 says:

    I was shocked, a company that actually treats humans as human being!

    Sounds like they know how to treat their best customers.

    Which explains the hostility once they discovered the OP is indeed not one of their best customers.

  4. deadandy says:

    Did you get it in writing from the technician that came out that your meter was malfunctioning? If you have that, I would send them a certified letter that says they billed you based on a malfunctioning meter, and tell them exactly what you would settle for (maybe a credit based on the difference between the bogus bill and your average usage today). Say that you will take them to small claims court if they haven’t resolved it by a certain date.

    They will almost certainly comply rather than have to send someone down there.

    As an aside, 15 minutes is not a “quick” shower–that’s a Hollywood shower. You should be in-out within 2-3 minutes.

    • obits3 says:

      To me 15 min is about average. When I had a hall bath style dorm, most people were in there for about that long.

      • balthisar says:

        Certainly 15 minutes is by no means a “quick” shower, but two to three minutes isn’t even humanly possible!

        • obits3 says:

          I think “two to three minutes” doesn’t mean what they think it means … *chuckles*

        • sponica says:

          I think guys can do it faster than women…they’re not trying to shave half their body at weird angles. But even the fastest guy I know takes about a 5 minute shower.

          Having never had to pay for water my showers are always on the longish side, but I also tend to space out while taking hot showers.

        • Dover says:

          I’d invite you to check out my showering routine, but my wife might get jealous.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          it’s possible, but that was the sort of shower i took at summer camp when there were 6 showers, 36 girls and half an hour to get the mud cleaned off everyone from the day’s exertions.
          it’s not pleasant though

    • thor79 says:

      15 minutes is indeed not a quick shower…that is a long lazy shower. On the other hand 2-3 minutes isn’t enough time to get completely clean (soap and shampoo). I’d say 5 minutes is more like it.

      • Pinkbox says:

        I WISH I could take a shower in 2-3 minutes. It is impossible for me to have one last less than ten… usually closer to 15-20.

        I need time for a quick shave, shampoo, condition (I let the conditioner sit while I shave, so time isn’t wasted there), soap my body, wash my face – done.

        I definitely try to rush most of the time too. D’oh.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      My showers are 5-10 minutes, I considered that average. Especially being a woman, and having to shave, longer hair to wash, ETC. I take quick showers, but 2-3 minutes is insane.

      • deadandy says:

        Okay I’ll admit 2-3 min is insane for anyone who shaves in the shower or has long hair. It’s not just women, BTW. :)

        • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

          Just saying, especially if you are a woman. More women are prone to long hair and more surface area to shave then most men. Although, like you said, not excluding certain men LOL.

          • BarbiCat says:

            Hell, I have hair down to the middle of my back and it takes 2-3 minutes just to shampoo properly, alone. But, my husband takes wwaaaayyy longer showers than I do, and he doesn’t even use conditioner. So it’s definitely not just about being a woman, or ‘shaving’.

    • theduckay says:

      “As an aside, 15 minutes is not a “quick” shower–that’s a Hollywood shower. You should be in-out within 2-3 minutes.”

      Um, what?? No, hate to break it to you but that is not a “Hollywood shower”. TWO minutes, are you insane? Thats probably how long it takes for my water to reach the right temperature haha. Us girls need to shave (takes a while), shampoo the hair, condition the hair (which has to sit for a couple minutes…and a lot of us have long hair), bodywash, facewash…which would all take at least 10 minutes if you’re completely rushing through it. Even my boyfriend (slob that he is) takes a 5 minute shower. Mine are usually around 20 minutes (10 at the quickest, 30 at the longest). Guess I’m “high maintenance” *shrug* but I see it more as a way to relax at the end of the day, not something to rush through. At any rate, I’d highly suggest adjusting your shower time as 2 minutes is probably enough time to jump in some freezing cold water, do a twirl, and jump out…and thats not really getting clean, nor is it very enjoyable =p

      • dizzy says:

        I’m not high maintenance at all and mine take 7-10 minutes. Just as you said – wash hair, condition hair (I don’t usually let it sit, because I’m usually running late for work), shave if I need to, body wash, face wash.

        I’d hate to be next to someone that only takes a 2 minute shower on the subway. You know SOMETHING isn’t getting as clean as it needs to be.

      • deadandy says:

        I have a device that keeps the hot water queued up, so I don’t have to wait for the water to adjust. I’ve taken quite a bit of flak for my assertion, but I stand by it. Seriously, sit there and look at a clock for a full three minutes. It’s kind of a long time, if you ask me.

        I assure everyone, I do get fully clean and smell like a garden of roses. I’m just fast. :)

        In my defense, I WAS in the Navy. In Basic Training, we had about 30 seconds to 1 minute for showers. When I got out of Basic, 2-3 minutes felt like a luxury. :)

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      15 min is about right if I’m shaving my beard in the shower.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      “You should be in-out within 2-3 minutes.”

      You weren’t by any chance a drill sergeant down at Ft. Benning a couple decades ago?

    • aloria says:

      Please go in the shower and shave every inch of your body from your hips down and tell me how long it takes you.

    • macoan says:

      It usually taken me about 30-45 minutes in a shower…. Of course I do a Kramer and fix supper while I’m in there, talk on the phone, etc… :-)

    • juggler314 says:

      I grew up in NYC in the 80’s when there were water conservation signs every (remember those signs to report leaks!:) We really tried to hold to the 5 minutes the city wanted us to, but that was a quick shower…it’s hard to fully shampoo, wash your entire body and properly rinse off in just 5 minutes.

      As an aside to the aside, if you only run the water when you actually need it (for lathering and rinsing) 5 minutes of flow time would probably suffice, but as has been pointed out a minute to get the right temp, lathering up lots of hair, shaving, all things you couldn’t possibly do in 5 minutes let alone 2-3. Hell my dad would shower in just cold water and it still was around 5 minutes.

      • Firethorn says:

        It’s hard to fully shampoo, wash your entire body and properly rinse off in just 5 minutes.

        At that level of water restriction you’re supposed to turn the shower on for 15-30 seconds to wet down, then do all the shampooing and soaping. Then turn it back on for a minute or so to get a good rinse. If you use a conditioner(I use a combined), just add another 30 seconds to a minute for the second rinse.

    • msbask says:

      Maybe if men would stop thinking that the only attractive woman is a hairless one(*), then women could take showers in 3 minutes or less.

      (*) body hair, not head hair

    • Pax says:

      If you’re showering in only 2-3 minutes … I don’t want to stand downwind of you. >:P

    • qualityleashdog says:

      Yeah, and I guess you’re the same one that says ONE SQUARE of toilet paper is all anyone needs for a visit to the bathroom.

  5. pop top says:

    Arif should contact his local newspaper’s “On Your Side”-type person and give them this information. They love this kind of stuff. My local paper is always posting stories about residents being overcharged by the local water utility and their problems are fixed almost immediately.

  6. Dover says:

    This shouldn’t be on the Consumerist until the manager has a chance to look over the problem, as I don’t see any reason to be skeptical that the manager will promptly estimate and refund the over payments. When the manager starts giving trouble, then it’s time for a complaint here and to the utility commission.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      True, but the OP was told one thing, and they went back on their word. Over a year of being overcharged for water, the hassles for them to admit error on their side, only to lie and say they’ll give a refund when they didn’t plan on it.

      I’m torn on this issue. Certainly the company should give a refund, but from their angle, they want to know if they are actually dealing with a rogue meter and all the OP says is true. Giving the water consumption at least another quarter isn’t out of the question to confirm. Although, they already promised a refund; It puts me somewhere between telling the OP to wait 3 more months, then demand action, or jumping the gun now.

      I would recommend 3 more months, and that would be it. Or else break it down another month or two. Its a better case for small claims.

  7. NashuaConsumerist says:

    I only wished you could invoice companies for wasting your time or over charging you in the way they expect you to comply with their fees for late payments and such. I know there’s a story of some guy doing that, and he actually saw the company cut a check (queue the person who has the patience for hunting down a link and citation). In a perfect world businesses actually work FOR their customers and we could hold them to our own contracts since they would need our business….ok, floating down from my dream cloud now….Sorry for the Friday rant….

  8. medicmatt says:

    If you had a plumber verify that there are no leaks, have him sign a letter stating as such. Notarize it if possible and submit that to the water authority.

    I had the same problem (bad meter). It is not uncommon and they will probably credit you in some way. Don’t expect a full refund without litigation.

    Be patient.

    Good luck!

  9. Audiyoda28 says:

    There is nothing quite like dealing with local government. I feel for the OP, I really do. I’ve been there, done that – and in a way, I’m still dealing with their ineptness. It’s mind blowing and every time I have to deal with someone directly (for me it’s the local inspector’s office) I just pray they never get it in their head to run for state of federal government.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Water utilities aren’t always governmental entities. Ours is private, under contract to the town.

  10. martyrd0m says:

    You do need to wait those 2 to 3 quarters so they can base what you actual useage is going to be. How do they know you weren’t purposely not using water for that quarter to show a decrease just for a refund? Its how we do it at the water company I work for. You need to build a new useage base for them to see what is your actual comsumption verses what you were overbilled. Its pretty simple if you stop and get out of the everyone is trying to screw you mentality.

    • obits3 says:

      I don’t see why they bill every 3 months. We get a bill every month, so this would have been caught earlier.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        That’s unusual, I agree. Maybe it depends on where they live? I don’t know anyone who receives a bill every three months – in fact, I read the letter twice and didn’t even catch the whole part about receiving a bill that “quarter.”

        • RandomHookup says:

          My city water has switched to 3 bills a year. Guess it works out cheaper for them somehow.

          • Extractor says:

            Problem with that is that if you were watering the lawn too much, you would find out after you could have adjusted the watering times. Happened to me the first year I was moved in and this past summer, althought I thought I lowered the times throughout the summer. BTW there is no way my city allows me to avoid the sewage charge. IE not allowed to have separate meters for in or out usage.

        • smbizowner says:

          our small municipality bills quarterly

      • nybiker says:

        I realize you do not live in NYC then. Our water bills come every three months. The Water Board is independent of the city in that they make their own water rates at home. So we have been getting jacked up rates every year for the past 2 or 3 years.
        Our current rate is a total of $7.64 per hundred cubic feet of water (or in normal terms, per 748 gallons). That rate includes not only the actual water you use but an added charge for sewage.
        And they bill a minimum so even if you don’t use a drop of water, you still get hit with a charge. My most recent (as in dated Nov 8, 2010) is such a minimum since there are only 2 people in the house and the total was about $95 for three months or about $32 per month. The min they billed for was 15 HCF (1,500 cubic feet of water).
        And for anyone who wishes to read about the rates and other stuff of the NYC Water Board, here you go: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwaterboard/html/rate_schedule/index.shtml

    • mrhappydude says:

      that actually makes sense. thanks utility worker!

  11. ThunderRoad says:

    Public Utilities Commission? City Council? Letter to the Mayor? Letter to the newspaper or local television? If we’ve learned anything on consumerist.com, it’s that no organization will do the right thing without public pressure.

  12. ZeshawnWhiles says:

    Call your Public Service Commission, they are in charge of monitoring utility companies, etc. I had an issue with my gas meter that is similar to yours and the gas company would not really do much for a year. One call to the MPSC (I live in Michigan) and my probelm was fixed and credit received in less than a week.

    Even if you threaten to call your PSC to the water company you will see action. I skipped this step and went right to the commission.

  13. benk016 says:

    I work for the city here in the IT dept. We recently had an issue with 7 customers in town that finally figured out they were being billed incorrectly. It turns out when we made the conversion to the automated meters, those 7 customers meters were put into the wrong category and billed incorrectly. It basically ammounted to a decimal in the wrong place. for example your 18,000 gallons, in our situation should have just been 1,800 gallons. There were also some that were being billed the other way around too. Just something to look into

  14. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Paying for 18,000 gallons must not have made a dent in their wallets because they waited an entire year. I don’t pay for water, so I can understand how if Arif and his fiance were in a similar situation, and have no experience paying for water, they might not see the billing as very high – but to me, if I got that first bill and saw that we were using 18,000 gallons of water, I would immediately assume that was impossible and call the company, regardless of how much I was being billed.

    Is 18,000 gallons not really expensive enough to warrant some kind of alarm?

    • johnva says:

      Water can vary in price a lot from place to place. So it could have still been relatively cheap.

    • john says:

      It would catch my attention. 18k gallons in my area is about $70-80.

    • jesirose says:

      He said it’s their first home, so they may not have noticed.

      When you use THAT much, the rates drop dramatically. In my first home I filled up a 20k gallon pool, and the bill was $50. Usually it was $10.

      • Mom says:

        Depends on the location. In most parts of California, unless you’re on a farm, a bill for 18k gallons would have gotten their attention FAST!

    • minjche says:

      I’m a single guy in an apartment, I’m a moderate-to-heavy water user, and my monthly water bill is typically under $2. So if I had a month where I used the scaled equivalent of 18M gallons, I’d see my water bill go up to something like $9 and promptly not care.

    • Antrack13 says:

      Water is very expensive out west. We used 19,000 gallons last month due to a leaky toilet, and our bill was $76.20. It should be about $20.

  15. jiarby says:

    every state has a utilities commission for just this kind of thing! File a complaint with the state, go to the local news… they love “consumer gets screwed by the man” stories. (Especially if you have a “news investiigator” on your local channel)

    You will get your refund/credit quickly.

    Maybe offer to take it as a credit against future bills rather than in hard currency.

  16. zombie70433 says:

    i’m not sure how you can do this reasonably, but severely limit your water usage for the next 2 quarters. If they base it on those readings, you’ll get a larger credit.

    Unless you’re in a really screwed up town (like New Orleans), the water company reports to the city or parish. I’d call city hall and talk to them.

  17. Griking says:

    File a charge back

    Oh, wait, wrong thread….

  18. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    They have you over a water barrel. Pay the amount owed so they don’t cut you off – then fight retro-actively for the refund. I understand their position. They get so many people fighting their bills (legitimate or not) and have to establish your base line. We had a water leak (underground sprinkler) that put us about $900 in the hole before we caught and fixed it. They did give us a one time $500 credit.
    I’d go public with it – locally – there may be others in your position affected by a bad batch of meters.

  19. HalOfBorg says:

    I work for a water utiity, though not a route person.

    I’m doubtful that the meter itself is defective, as most meters will UNDER report flow instead of over reporting. (maybe some different tech here). Certainly sounds as if someone was misreading the meter, but then there would be others in the same area, probably everyone on that person’s route.

    And that would certainly stand out in the accounting office, one route of residential customers using business-levels of water.

    Perhaps the display/gain of the meter was set to the wrong range, and it was reporting 10X the correct amount. But again, that should stand out – one family on a route using that much more.

    Checking for a leak on property is simple. You turn off all the faucets, or close the main valve coming in. The meter should display no flow – they have a sensor/display to register small flow. Even a pencil thin flow from a faucet should register. Or they can listen on the line with a tool. Flowing water makes noise. (checking for this is extremely simple and routine)

    A good explanation is a disreputable water dept/manager. They are happy to overcharge/register you for water, as one huge problem for most departments is lost water. You pump out say 7 million gallons a day, but the customers only use 6.5 million gallons. 7% loss is not a bad number as many see 25%. Old lines, old meters that under-register.

  20. HalOfBorg says:

    You could have a plumber install a meter of your own, though I doubt they would accept this data.

  21. Aennan says:

    We had a problem like this with the local electric co-op (on property where no one lived but there was a house). They were great at ‘working with us’ until we started catching them making stuff up (because they didn’t know the answer and/or were lazy). Then, suddenly, we were trying to get electricity.

    We jumped through all their hoops and got to the point the OP is now. At this point, we started researching who the board members were that oversaw the co-op. They were local in the community, and we contacted them. Suddenly – the co-op could begrudgingly help us.

    Find the person/people above the water system, but that have oversight. They don’t like getting pulled into stuff like this because they don’t want to be part of any bad press if it goes wrong.

  22. Bossco says:

    We have a Water District. It’s a public authority. You should write your mayor or councilman about the problem. Most likely they or someone in city government will sit on your water district’s board. You should also go to the monthly meeting if possible and bring up your problem…until it is resolved.

  23. physics2010 says:

    Either
    1) They were worried you curtailed your water consumption during this quarter to get more money back and are now going to see if you can keep it up for the next year, or
    2) They are giving you a date so far out so that you forget, give up, or have reached some magical statute of limitation number buried in your contract.

  24. TooManyHobbies says:

    No idea how to approach this problem. Just here to point out that I don’t think a 15 minute shower is “short” – I don’t think I’ve ever spent 15 minutes in the shower. Usually 3 minutes, about 6 if I’m shaving in there. How long does it take to lather up and rinse off?

    • Macgyver says:

      3 mins? How can anyone take 3 mins. to take a shower? That’s not enough time.

      • The Waffle says:

        It’s quite easy, my showers are always under 5 minutes I’m not sure how they take longer. I wash my hair, then wash my body. I take less than 30 seconds to lather up hair and scrub it up, 15 to get the soap ready, and typically under 2 minutes to clean my body. Not sure how it takes more than that, unless you spend a good 30+ seconds scrubbing each part of your body. Never had complaints about my body odor and in fact I get compliments about smelling good.

        I never understand people who spend 10+ minutes in the shower. It’s asinine to me.

  25. Nate with shorter name says:

    200 Gal/Day per person is not that much for an american. Your shower head uses 2.5 G/M so your 15 min shower uses 45. Shaving takes ~5 gal. The dishwasher uses 15 G. Wahing by hand takes ~30G, a top-loader washer uses 45 gals per load. If you water your yard or wash your car you will be shocked at how much water you will go through.

    • not-gonna-tell-ya says:

      +1. From the post, the new numbers don’t add up either. if 2 people take 15 minute showers using low flow heads that average 1 to 2.5 gpm (using 1.25 as the average), that is 37.5 gallons a day, plus any toilet flushes, say 2 per day on the low side (1.6 gal p flush)=3.2. Not even countinig for clothes and dish washing, and drinking/cooking, they should be at about 280-300 gallons per a 7 day period. The post indicated that they were at 130. Fail

  26. Macgyver says:

    It’s highly doubtful that it’s not the meter, you most likely have a leak some place.
    I see no where in her letter that she called a plumber to check for a leak. She should call one to check it out.

    How come it took her a year to say something, when she say she was always suspicious?

    • jesirose says:

      Reading Fail.

      He is a guy.

      And HE explains…
      “The number was always suspicious to me, but I never thought much about it until June of this year when I had begun talking to my neighbors and it was also this quarter that we had taken a 2 week vacation where no one was home. I figured being out for 2 weeks should make a difference in our bill. After all, 18K gallons a quarter is approximately 200 gallons/day. Well you could imagine my surprise when I received my bill in June of this year that we were still billed for 18K gallons. “

  27. backinpgh says:

    Perhaps they have a leak underneath the house?

  28. DeltaTee says:

    They ask to wait for a few months so that they can get a new baseline reading to better be able to make a decision on whether the reading was wrong in the previous months. You can’t look at one month’s data and then make assumptions about what was happening in the previous years (unless you are working on climate change).

  29. chickensoup says:

    OP here
    I want to offer some clarification as some of my points were missed.

    They monitored our water for a quarter, aka, 3 months.

    I consider a shower duration to be the time I enter to the time I leave the bathroom. I should clarify the water runs for 5 to 10min. It is also a low flow, 1.5gpm

    There is no leak in the home, the new meter has a digital flow meter that reads 0 when everything is off. If there was a leak they wouldn’t have told me the meter was bad.

    The water authority was the one who determined the meter was faulty, not me. The amount I calculate to be due is between 350 to 450 dollars. Water here is expensive.

  30. AnthonyC says:

    2*15 minutes*2.5 gallons/minute for showering: 75 gallons
    If you have an older toilet, a few flushes each/day ~25 gallons
    Dishawasher once per week , 1-2 gallons/day
    2 loads of laundry per week ~12 gallons/day, if it’s a top-loader
    That still leaves 80 gallons/day unaccounted for, and no amount of hand-washing, cooking, or tooth-brushing I can think of can make up that difference. But I’d be surprised if you’re using

    Is it possible that the previous bills were based on estimates, and the new bill was based on an actual reading? As in, over the past 3 quarters you used 40k gallons total, but got billed as 18+18+4 instead of 13+13+13?

  31. silverlining says:

    First – that stinks. How crappy that the OP has had to spend this much time and money on the problem!

    Others have said this, but start with your city council member. Even if the municipal water agency is organized, say, under the county than with the city, your council member can tell you that. And your council member (or even better, the council member’s legislative aide) can give you advice about who to talk to to resolve the problem. Many elected officials (though unfortunately not all) are happy to help constituents with this kind of maneuvering-the-government-red-tape work because it’s something constituents remember at election time.

  32. evilpete says:

    Some older meter “spin” when an air bubble passes though the system?

  33. evilpete says:

    Some older meter “spin” when an air bubble passes though the system?

  34. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The new bill of 4,000 gallons/quarter is ridiculously low -only 44 gallons/day. A washing machine uses about 40 gallons. 200 gallons/day is also below average for a typical household.

    • There's room to move as a fry cook says:

      200/day is not so far out of whack that a water utility would flag it as obviously an error,

  35. dourdan says:

    at least your meter is working, so you will not be ripped off in the future.

    if you can afford it, i would write the rest off as a loss. (i am unemployed, so i could not afford it, but in the even you can, it will save allot of headaches.)

  36. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    sounds like the dpw is moving fantastically fast, esp for ny. (if that’s where this is)

  37. WickedCrispy says:

    Don’t pay until the bills you would owe add up to what they’ve stolen from you. Instead, mail in a reply with an invoice stating what they would owe you and deducting that month off of the total refund.

  38. Bardiel says:

    Every three months my water bill says i spent 30,000 Gallons. I spent about 89 to 120 dollars for just the basic water and sewage usage. Then tack on the crazy amount of water they say we use vs. the actual count we keep track of every few days. We have fought out water company Aqua Texas a division of Aqua America every few months and they do not believe a Texan when their all the way off in Pennsylvania.

  39. MacGyver says:

    If I need to get anywhere with any type of municipal authority, I usually and unfortunately have to go through my councillor’s office.

  40. bben says:

    In my area the person to talk to to put ‘pressure’ on the local utility (county owned) is my county councilman. My particular councilman is always standing up for his voters against the various utilities and inspectors. They hate to see him come through the door. Yes he does show up in person as he says that walking into a bureaucrats office is the only way to get their attention.

  41. elkhart007 says:

    OP is a moron. 6000 gallons a month isn’t unfathomable. We use 2200 during the winter.

  42. pot_roast says:

    Document everything. I had a similar problem with our water district. They had billed me for 36,000 gallons in one 30 day period. I don’t have a pool, water leak, or anything. I took my bill out to the front of the house and compared the reading on the bill to the meter (which I had to dig out of the mud to see) and they were nowhere close. They *were* close to my neighbors meter readings, though. I called the city and told them there was a problem and they sent me a letter saying that no adjustment would be made. I had to call back several more times to demand that someone physically come out and LOOK at the meter. They did, said it was wrong, and the utility STILL said that I had to pay the original bill. I balked repeatedly and they finally relented and issued an adjusted bill.

    It’s ridiculous that anyone should have to deal with this. :/

  43. grtRJ says:

    Check your toilet tank by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank and look for color in the toilet bowl. A leaking tank flap valve may be pouring gallons of water down the sewer every day. Replacing this flap valve is a 10 min. fix with parts costing only a few dollars at home centers or hardware stores. There are also kits for less than $10 at home centers that replace all of the flushing system in your tank. These are easy to install and can save lots of water.