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David Minton

High water bills raise questions, concerns

Profile image for By Rhiannon Saegert
By Rhiannon Saegert

City utility employees throughout Denton County have gotten a deluge of calls from people who said their August water bills have been abnormally high, sparking concern over whether technology is to blame.

The Colony looked into the complaints by testing water meters and auditing its internal and third-party billing, and Flower Mound and Corinth are doing the same, but some people’s bills were quadruple the amount they expected to pay.

“It’s pretty bizarre that they’re higher across the board,” Corinth resident Judy Carmack said. “Our bill isn’t as high as some of the others.”

Carmack said her bill was roughly $282 for August, more than double her July bill. She said some of her neighbors received bills as high as $500.

“We keep our sprinkling system turned off, there’s no automatic watering at all,” Carmack said. “I just turn it on when I see the grass needs to be watered, which is about once a week.”

Nichole Carter said she’s never had a water bill more than $150, but this month her bill was $263.57, about twice as much as last month’s. She called the city utilities office when she realized she wasn’t the only one with an unusually high bill.

“They just keep giving us the same talking points,” Carter said. “They just keep telling us the same thing, ‘Oh, someone can come read the meter.’”

She said a couple she knows went on vacation for three weeks last month and came home to a higher bill.

“How is someone not even there and still have their bill go up $90?” Carter said. “Some of us have pools, but lots of us don’t, so how does that happen?”

Both women said the city sent someone to their homes to check the water meters and look for leaks, but no problems were discovered.

City of Corinth utility billing supervisor Angie Watson said no glitch in the water meters or billing errors on the administrative end have been found.

“What we have found is that people’s usage increased,” Watson said.

According to dentonrainfall.com, Denton County received a total of 15.44 inches of rain in May and another 5.45 inches in June. The number drops off with only 0.62 of an inch in July and 0.45 inches in August.

Watson said Corinth’s current water meters have been in use since at least 2001 and the system hasn’t had any major changes or problems in that time.

These three cities aren’t the only ones hearing complaints. Denton resident Lester Huey, who lives near Corinth but still pays bills with the city of Denton, said his high water bill doesn’t reflect his water usage.

“I’m rarely home,” Huey said. “I sleep there, but that’s it. I haven’t changed my pattern. This is way out of line.”

RHIANNON SAEGERT can be reached at 940-566-6897 and via Twitter at @missmusetta.