New Jersey

Haltom City Agrees to Test Water Meters After Community Uproar

The city says residents were undercharged on their water bills for years

Dozens of residents in Haltom City have expressed anger with city leaders and their new smart water meters.

"We might as well just move out of Haltom City because we're not going to be able to afford to live in Haltom City," Mary Hunter said.

Homeowners are trying to figure out why their water bills are so high.

"There's one day that I looked up that it shows 25 gallons of water every single hour," Melanie Montgomery said. "How is that possible?"

Montgomery said it all started when the city installed smart water meters, and got rid of the old ones.

According to one of her bills, she used 3 1/2 times more water this year compared to last year. But she's not buying it.

"The last four years, we've used the same amount of water every year," she said.

Back in August, assistant city manager Rex Phelps told us residents had been undercharged on their water usage for decades.

He said the old meters were simply inaccurate.

"You had a good situation for a long time because you simply weren't paying all your water usage. And now, you are," Phelps said. "We do empathize with them, but we do know that the new meters are accurate."

Today, Haltom City told NBC 5 officials are taking a closer look at the smart meters that many of its residents deem inaccurate.

The city has hired a third-party utility firm to audit and test its water meters and it's billing platform.

Forty smart meters will be shipped to a nationally certified lab in New Jersey for testing.

If results from those tests are not satisfactory, the city said it will test an additional 373 meters.

"I think the city has responded because it has been on NBC 5," Montgomery said.

She's glad that her meter is one of the 40 that is on its way for testing.

Now, Montgomery said she hoped the results would shed light on what she believes is a major problem for residents in Haltom City.

"They're called smart meters, but they're not that smart," she said.

The city said meters selected for testing will be replaced with a brand new meter.

City officials will continue to meet with residents one-on-one to help them understand the water bills and regain their trust.

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