you in Richmond County want to know why your water bill doubled… and in some
cases tripled this month. We went looking for answers.
had several emails come in asking if water rates have gone up. We
checked into it… And Augusta Utilities says the rate went up by 3% in April,
as it does every year. But many people say they have noticed
more than a 3% increase on their water bill.
Lori Davis says her latest water
bill is the highest she has ever seen it.
“Last month, our bill was
very minimal and then this month it was actually double. Which really caught my
eye because, as you see, we have a pool, and we have not had to put any water
in this pool all summer,” Davis says.
There are dozens of other people
who also noticed a higher water bill. And because of all the rain in June and
July, most people haven't been using their sprinkler systems, so their water
usage shouldn't have gone up. We went to the director of Augusta Utilities for
answers. Tom Wiedmeier says one of the reasons bills may look higher is because
they are mailed out 35 days after the meter is read.
“May was a very dry month.
It started raining in June and July, and people knew they weren't watering
during June and July, but they were looking at bill for May's consumption,” Wiedmeier says.
Wiedmeier also says bills go up
by about 50% if you use more than 4,000 gallons of water a month.
About half of the water
meters in Augusta are smart meters, which means they
can be read electronically. But some people who don't have smart meters say
that their water meters haven't been read in months.
their water meters have been covered with dirt and debris for months, which
leads them to believe Augusta Utilities is making up numbers. We asked Wiedmeier if that was the case. He says his employees read every meter.
“Your water meter is like an
odometer on a car, so if we go back out and re-read and it makes sense, and
it's in the range of what was reported, your meter was read,” says Wiedmeier.
But the numbers just don't make
sense for some, and that's why they want more transparency.
“The hand is quicker than
the eye. I don't know what's going on and most people are saying this just
isn't right,” Davis says.
says the reason that water bills go up when you use more than 4,000
gallons of water is to alleviate the bills for fixed-income families who may
use less water than others.