Friday, June 19, 2009

It's never the utility company's fault

Have you seen this news story? Some poor lady in Washington, who normally uses about 3000 gallons of water during a billing cycle, gets charged for 140,000 gallons of water for one month! The water company says there's nothing wrong with their meter and she must pay the $1181.00 bill. Of course, that's completely ridiculous. You could calculate the amount of water that the supply line to her house can discharge in a month at the local water pressure, running 24 hours a day, and it's probably not 140,000 gallons. But the water company will never admit they're wrong.

I had a little run-in with my local water company last year, nothing this dramatic, but it illustrates how stubborn the utilities can be. In one month, my water usage jumped from less than 2500 gallons to 28,500 gallons. I, of course, filed a protest, and the company replaced the meter and sent it off to be tested. You already know what the results of the testing were. Absolutely nothing wrong with the meter. But, coincidentally, the next month's bill after the meter was replaced was back in our normal range.

Like the lady in the news story, I had a plumber look around the house. No leaks were found. He commented that the crawlspace of my house would have looked like a swimming pool if there was a leak that bad. He was also sure that the line between the meter and the house wasn't leaking. It was during the drought last year, and as the plumber put it, if there were any leaks on the supply line, I would have had some grass growing in my yard, which I certainly didn't. As a visualization of just how much 28,500 gallons of water is, I used the water capacity of the jacuzzi I used to own. It was 6 feet square and the water was about 24 inches deep. It held 225 gallons of water. I would have had to completely fill that jacuzzi over 4 times a day, every day of the month, to use 28,500 gallons.

Let's apply the jacuzzi test to the Washington lady's bill. 140,000 gallons would fill that jacuzzi over 20 times a day, every day, for 30 days. Let's assume that the water pressure and supply line to her house aren't much different than my former home. I remember how long it took to refill the jacuzzi after cleaning it. It would have been impossible to run enough water to fill it 20 times in one 24 hour period.

Now, my erroneous bill was nowhere as high as the Washington lady's bill, but it's the principal of the thing. I wrote the check, grumbling all the time, because it was the only thing I could do. I hope the lady can fight it and win.

1 comment:

momtofatdogs said...

When we lived in AL, during the drought, the access road to our house got flooded. 6 inches of atanding water and the lake was dried up. Clled the water co, they said it wasn't on "their" side of the line. MY bill never changed. Called them AGAIN, they came out & went next door. No leak there....Next month, I stapled a sticky note to my check. there was still 6 inches of water across the road, grass dead as door nails, they came out & "fixed" it. STILL there was water. It took them OVER 4 months to fix the leak. Gotta love the utility agencies.....can't do with out them, even if you wanted too.