North Texas

Homeowner Warns Others of City's Locked Water Meter Box

What to Know

  • Bedford installed smart water meters this summer.
  • The city has tried educating residents to look for their own private shutoff valves.
  • City says only a couple dozen homeowners have called asking for help to find shutoff valves.

A growing number of North Texas cities are making the switch from old to new smart water meters.

The meters are supposed to help you track how much water you use and alert you if there’s a leak.

But as more cities look to install the new systems, one woman has a serious warning for homeowners.

Soaking wet towels were stacked on the floor on Tuesday morning.

They were the only things stopping the rising water in Elisha Dickens’ bathroom floor.

“Just everywhere. Just spreading,” she said of the water.

Dickens had woken up to a leaky faucet in her tub.

“I noticed it was kind of leaking when I turned the handle,” she said.

“When I turned it some more, it just broke off,” Dickens added. “And then water was spewing from right here and straight up.”

She screamed for her son to help stop the gushing stream.

“I just thought about the amount of damage this was going to cause because I could not turn it off myself,” she said.

Could not, because the city of Bedford’s water meter boxes outside are now off limits to homeowners.

“They now have this lock on it that only the city has keys to,” said Dickens.

The city installed pricey new digital meters over the summer and lids with a lock to protect them.

This has left homeowners, who would otherwise run to the meter box to shut off their water, relying on the city to respond to water breaks.

It took a city crew half an hour to respond to Dickens’ home early this morning.

“I asked them about the water damage. They said it would be my responsibility and it would also be my responsibility for the extra cost of the water that was wasted in that 30 minutes,” she said.

“It’s an unfortunate incident they have a problem like that,” said Kenny Overstreet, Bedford’s public works director.

Overstreet says they also opted to lock up the meter boxes to try and protect the city from lawsuits.

“To also help protect the [meter equipment] and also mitigate claims and liability against the city from people stepping on a box lid that may not be securely on and slipping and falling,” he said.

Overstreet says since the city installed the new systems with a lock they have received calls from other cities in North Texas interested in the systems too.

Overstreet says the city has tried educating residents to look for their own private shutoff valves.

So far, only a couple dozen homeowners have called asking for help in finding them.

“We haven’t gotten the response back we were hoping to get for assistance,” said Overstreet.

City workers agreed to help Dickens find her valves. One was near her kitchen, the other was on the side of the home that was newly constructed.

“It’s usually by a faucet on the front of your house and this one is under the kitchen sink,” said Dickens walking around the outside of her house.

As she dries out, Dickens worries others will find themselves in even deeper water.

“What if I was 80 years old and I didn’t have someone here to hold the water back. It could’ve been really bad,” she said. “I think the city needs to do a better job of educating people on how to turn off the valves that are near your house because you don’t know this.”

The city of Bedford says if homeowners do not know where their private shutoff valves are located they can call the city to have a crew help locate them.

Contact Us