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Old 05-16-2008, 07:49 AM
 
Location: Dunwoody,GA
1,993 posts, read 4,763,459 times
Reputation: 2241

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Even though we live in Sandy Springs, we are billed by City of Atlanta for water/sewer. Each month, we get two bills; one for indoor water/sewer and one for the irrigation system outside. We have the sprinkler system completely cut off, so that bill has been $3.63 for the past several months.

Typically, our water/sewer bill is in the neighborhood of $60 or so. Consumption history (the little graph on the bill) shows minor ups and downs for the past year, but no major variation from that amount.

Imagine my surprise yesterday to open the bill and see them asking for $415!! Bill was paid in full last month, so that is not a balance forward. $245 for water and $190+ for sewer!

We cannot think of any reason why this might be. We've have no problems with flooding, toilets running, burst pipes, etc... in the last month.

I've got a plumber coming out today to take a look, but would appreciate any suggestions of what to look for.

Anyone else had an experience like this? If so, did you have any success with the water company getting the bill reduced?
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:04 AM
 
Location: St Simons Island, GA
23,122 posts, read 35,061,639 times
Reputation: 15304
Quote:
Originally Posted by CMMom View Post

I've got a plumber coming out today to take a look, but would appreciate any suggestions of what to look for.

Anyone else had an experience like this? If so, did you have any success with the water company getting the bill reduced?
Having a plumber come out is a good idea...I had the same thing happen a few years ago (except my bill was $1100.00!). The plumber discovered that the ground was soggy where the water pipe led into my house...sure enough, landscapers had managed to rupture the pipe.

Yes, I was able to get the bill reduced after a great amount of effort...IMO the Water Department in DeKalb County is at the bottom of the bureaucratic food chain. When I was sitting in their office during one of my many visits, an irate customer came in to complain about an $80.00 'misc. charge' on his bill. The clerk, who had taken his previous month's payment, claimed that she had given him $80 in too much change...so, she had charged his next bill for the difference. The ensuing scene was worth the trip to the Water Department.

Last edited by Iconographer; 05-16-2008 at 09:09 AM..
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:13 AM
 
340 posts, read 1,437,562 times
Reputation: 85
Shut all water valves and check the water meter to see if it's running. If it's not, chances are there isn't any leakage in your house. Don't forget the water heater valve. The other thing which can cause meter misreading is meter itself. If that's the case, go ahead ask them to replace it.

Last edited by CityFan; 05-16-2008 at 09:20 AM..
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:18 AM
 
2,999 posts, read 6,487,442 times
Reputation: 5567
Call the water company. They'll begin the appeal process and send someone out to check the water meter again and check "their side". Once the appeal is started, they ask you to just pay your usual amount. I had this happen about a year and a half ago and believe it or not, the City of Atlanta water people were actually pretty helpful. It turned out to be a clerical error and they revised the bill (about two months later). Keep track of everyone who you talk to and just be persistent.
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:29 AM
 
9,124 posts, read 32,796,307 times
Reputation: 3540
Did the chart on the bill show a major spike in usage, or did the rates/unit increase dramatically? If the usage increased, as mentioned above, check the meter when no water is turned on in the house to see if it's turning. If it's the rate/unit that increased, that's just a little "added bonus" from the City- gotta make up that $70 million they "can't seem to find", right????
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Old 05-16-2008, 09:15 AM
 
Location: East Cobb
2,206 posts, read 6,076,513 times
Reputation: 912
Our neighborhood was hit by a lightning strike a couple of years ago, that blew out the TVs and computers in several houses all around us, including ours. Only about 20 hours after did the event did we perceive a pool welling up out front of our house. It turned out that apparently the lightning had also run along the water main and fried the joint where it connected from our house supply to our sprinkler system.

Cobb Water came and investigated, shut off the water and we got the problem fixed, etc. But sure enough, we got a $600 water bill which I was only able to negotiate down to $300.
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Old 05-16-2008, 09:41 AM
 
Location: a warmer place
1,748 posts, read 4,935,778 times
Reputation: 758
We had an issue with our water meter last fall. Our bill was for several hundred dollars. I checked everything for leaks then called the water company. It was a major misread. The water guy said our meter was filthy and hard to read and that maybe I should talk to my husband about upkeep!!!! So I'd give them a call to come check your meter. I sure wasn't aware that cleaning the meter was our responsibility but apparently it is.
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:03 AM
 
177 posts, read 898,565 times
Reputation: 88
CM Mom,

I don't know how your water meter is situatuated, but ours is in the sort of "median" -- the public access area in front of our house. About two years ago in a discussion about something else with city hall, we were told that we had had excessive use of water and we should get a plumber in to check our pipes, etc. as it looked as if we had some leak. Well, what did we find? We found that it was IMPOSSIBLE for the meter readers to have actually read the meter because of the build up of dirt, etc. over the meter because of all the crap covering the inside of the meter and it was obvious that the meter had not been read for possibly YEARS.
Utility companies/city agencies will generally use the phrase, "would you like to have someone come out and do another reading" when a bill is questioned.

My suggestion is that you get your plumber to "open" the area to read your meter (if it's enclosed) and see if it looks as if it was possible to read. If you have the kind in the ground with a cover, when you open it, if it's covered with junk, then take a few pictures to show that it would have been impossible to have been read. Make sure you have someone else (someone who would not benefit from a reduced bill) with you when the plumber is there and that YOU and they are there when the plumber opens up the water thingy. You might have another kind of meter, so this advice might not be pertinent for your situation. We hadn't gotten a bill yet when this was brought to our attention. Actually there was a BIG time water leak up the street from us...in the street, so my thought was that perhaps this was some "creative" method of recouping lost revenue. Anyway, we didn't end up paying anymore than our usual bill when I brought this to the City's attention.

The big time leak had been caused by Atlanta gas subcontractors who had crunched in some major pipe up the street.

Seems like some utility companies and City agencies just sort of calculate a "normal" water or electric usage for a house (probably based on size). Then there can be a sort of "rotten apple" among the hardworking folks who DO read the meters and that could be your problem.

BTW, this problem with not ACTUALLY reading meters is not unique to where we live...we experienced the same thing in not reading the electric meter in our former home town in the West. In that case the electrical use amounts were real b.s. as one of the biggest uses of electric is normally hot water, but our hot water was solar, and we NEVER turned on the central heat.

Hope this helps -- all the best,
zebbie
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Old 01-24-2009, 05:39 PM
Status: "Apparently not a person." (set 29 days ago)
 
5,106 posts, read 3,313,412 times
Reputation: 3402
Our water is metered electronically, I think by a truck that drives by. One month, we were out of town for the entire month, thus using no water (except what the AC may have used). We got a bill for a little higher than a normal month when we are home. When I called the utility company, they said that since their reading showed zero usage, they just assumed it was a problem with their equipment and billed us based on average usage. I guess the following month, it would have worked back out, but I had them reduce the bill.
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Old 01-25-2009, 12:18 AM
 
Location: Avery Ranch, Austin, TX
8,154 posts, read 13,544,044 times
Reputation: 3427
Quote:
Originally Posted by samiwas1 View Post
Our water is metered electronically, I think by a truck that drives by. One month, we were out of town for the entire month, thus using no water (except what the AC may have used). We got a bill for a little higher than a normal month when we are home. When I called the utility company, they said that since their reading showed zero usage, they just assumed it was a problem with their equipment and billed us based on average usage. I guess the following month, it would have worked back out, but I had them reduce the bill.

Our neighborhood in Sandy Springs was receiving the 'electronic meter reader' gizmos over a year ago...then, there was news that the system wasn't working. We left in June, anybody know if the 'meter readers' ever worked out?
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