water meter ?

Old 02-16-02, 03:50 PM
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water meter ?

I received my water bill about a week ago and said that I had used 85000 gallons in three months. Two person housedhold that averaged about 9500/3 months for the past year. The city has a radio device attatched and they were here to check reading against meter. Turned out it was sending out the right reading. Could the meter itself be reading too high. There is no leak and with that much usage it would be obvious if something was left running. The city took a reading to tell when exactly the water was used (time of day). Haven't heard back. I KNOW I didn't use the water. Just wondering if anybody else has had the same problem or ideas how to fight this one. It is a rather large bill.
Old 02-16-02, 06:00 PM
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Unless you do have a leak it is obvious you did not use the water. The trick to handling any situation like this is treat everyone you deal with with the respect you want to be treated with and always remain calm making your point. Also it is important to speak to the person with the authority to make a decision. That can be tricky dealing with anyone especially the city.

Good Luck
Old 02-19-02, 12:32 AM
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I once had a similar problem but it dealt with politics and the inability of people to properly read meters. Like you there are only 2 of us in a home, and usually not much at that between work and travel!
Where is your meter? Is it in the house or curbside? Remember, you are charged for everything after the meter.
If you are curbside it might be possible that you have a leak between the meter and your house. Look at the meter. See if you have a leak indicator on it. These usually appear as little triangles on the face that move with the movement of water. Is it moving in a full circle when no water is supposed to be running in the house? If so you do have a leak. Now, oscillation is normal. This only indicates changes in pressure in the main line as your neighbors use water or pressure changes in the line. You are only concerned with full circles of the indicator. Another way is to listen to your water lines . Seriously! Put a ear to the supply pipe where it enters the house and listen for a gurling or noise of water running. If you cant reach it, use a screwdriver with a plastic handle as a stethescope. Put the srewdriver blade against the pipe and your ear to the top of the handle. Cup it to preclude stray noise and listen!
Is your house on a slab? If so your pipes would possibly be encased in your floor! I have a friend who just recently moved, fulltime, into a house and received a very large bill for water. His bill approximated a flow of 130 gallons a hour!!!! He also was only two people. It turned out that the pipe had broken in the concrete and was undermining the slab!! Imagine his suprise!
Do you have hotwater heating? Ensure that your boiler is not dumping water out the overflow pipe. Follow the pipe from your boiler and see where it goes and look at it.
Do you have a lawn sprinkler system? It is possible to have a leak in that line as well and gush water when the zone is on. Also sometimes the heads will throw nozzles and really gush water. Check that all heads have noozles and lift properly.
Do you have a pool? Check that the pool is not filling unkown to you. Turn off any pumps and observe level of the pool. They develop leaks also!
Did you have your house washed recently?
This simple process uses umongeous amounts of water.
Do you have outside water faucets? Maybe someone is tapping off your lines when you are not home!
Talk to your neighbors. Did they receive large bills also? If so, then something else is afoot.
Now to dispute it as J.D. said, remain calm. Inquire as to how the bills are prepared and what the different things on the face of the meter mean. Also, ask how the digits are interpreted. In my municipality the last two digits are treated as zeros as they only represent partial usage. These numbers are in red. Depends on the meter mfg.
Dig out all of your old bills, and receipts, and arrange them in chronological order. Sounds stupid but to a bureaucrat looks impressive and is interpreted that you are organized. I keep mine in a binder with other property tax records. Bring them with you to city hall as it will be a record of your usage in the past.
Talk to the person who compiles the bills. Ensure that they have the proper block and lot for your property and are not confusing you with someone elses property. Be polite and cordial. Sometimes these people have the authority to adjust extremely large bills. Again be prepared to show that this bill is not within your pattern of usage.
Do some follow-up. You stated that a bill comparison of time of day usage was to be done, but they have not gotten back to you. If you wait for them a certain spot will freeze before you receive the information.Pursue the information. Compare it to your daily schedule. Were you home,etc?
If you do not get any satisfaction be prepared to go to your municipalites leaders. You have ELECTED officials. That is what is so great about this country! Go talk to them and explain the problem. Sometimes they will listen. Don't be afraid to speak out. But first ensure that you are not leaking water and be prepared to show a history of past usage!
I had a similar problem as yours. My municipality had the pipes that service my area cleaned. This was not supposed to cost us as homeowners anything. We were also not to be charged for usage while we were temp. connected to fire hydrants. Then, in the interest of efficency, they contracted out the resposibility of reading the meters.Imagine my suprise when I received a bill for $975 for 6 mos of water. This equated to almost 3/4 million gallons of water! The Titanic didn't need that!
I protested and followed the procedures that I said above. I even demanded that the meter be replaced. It was. I was told that I had a water leak, used that much , everything but that the bill was wrong! I pointed out that the meter was located in my garage, in my basement, and still met resistance. I was told that the dept. did not keep records of past usage and that there was no way to demonstrate a history even then the bills would only be estimates. Imagine their suprise when I produced bills for the last twenty five years of actual readings and that I knew the previous water dept meter readers name. I finally was able to determine, and demonstrate,that the persons who had been contracted to actually read the meters were improperly recording them and including the partial numbers as whole numbers.
I went to the water dept, the City Council, the City Majority Leader and the Office of the Mayor! As a result my bill was reduced down to seventy dollars and my money was refunded. Even then they made me request it in writingand took over two years!
Many excuses were given as to the overcharge, but never explained, and some of my neighbors also received refunds! In addition one person, who had always been the one you were referred, to left the dept. Slightly suspicious.
Good luck, hope this helps, do some research, and remain calm!
Old 02-19-02, 03:19 PM
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Thanks for the great and informative reply. I just got off the phone with the city (again). They pulled the data from the meter, but for some reason it didn't transfer to the computer. So I set up another appt tomorrow to do that. I guess the meter is radio controlled and sends a blip every so often. As far as leaks, I think I am ok. I don't have any of the things you mention except for the outside faucets which are shut off inside for the winter. The meter is located inside in the basement, and I have never seen the dial budge when everything was off. It will be interesting to see when the water was actually being used. The bills is approx $300 which isn't huge, but my main concern is why the meter read so high (leaks, etc)
As far as the politics go, been there done that. I seem to have gotten some pretty good results by doing my research, being respectful and sometimes having to be present at council meetings.
Thanks again
Old 02-19-02, 03:49 PM
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My mother had a similar problem couple of years ago and for about the same $$$. She disputed it and the city came and replaced the water meter (she said it looked original - house is about 40 years old), but they supposedly ran a bench test on it and couldn't find anything wrong. The only thing they did do was credit her for sewer charges for the extra water, which didn't save her a whole lot. Unfortunately, unless you want to foot the bill for independent testing (probably more than the water bill), the water people hold all the cards.

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