City Councilmember Chris Cate and the city’s Public Utilities Department director hosted a community forum Thursday to assist residents who claim they were charged incorrectly for water bills.
Cate and PUD director Vic Bianes answered questions from forum attendees about why their water bills ran so high, among other issues.
The PUD said that increased charges could have been due to several factors – a city issue with a recent rate increase, an issue with meter misreads, warm winter leading to increased water use or leaks on properties.
Last week, the city admitted after a partial investigation that nearly 350 customers were overcharged due to a lone city employee misreading meters.
One forum participant explained how the increase in water charges forced her and her family to take showers away from their home when they could. She also said she became so angry with the increases that she refused to allow anyone else in her home to do the dishes for fear of water waste.
Another attendee told NBC 7 after the meeting that he was forced to pay double what he normally paid for water for around 8 months while he tried to appeal his bills to the city.
“Every time I went down to complain to the city, they kept telling me something was wrong with my meter,” Tony Jasso said. “I even had somebody come out and check out the meter and I had no water leaks.”
Jasso said that the city never gave him a clear explanation of his charges, and was told repeatedly that he must have a leak on his property.
In addition to allowing citizens to share their overcharge stories before the forum, the PUD had 10 customer service representatives present at the meeting to hear complaints and review attendees' two most-recent water bills.
The PUD said that the city will be issuing checks to residents who are owed more than $50, and those owed less than that will receive a credit towards their next bill