North Texas

Haltom City Residents Report Skyrocketing Water Bills

Water woes in Haltom City don't have anything to do with the December rain, but rather new water bills arriving just in time for Christmas.

This has forced a hard choice for some residents who are choosing between paying a water bill or buying Christmas presents for their loved ones.

Pam Crandell has a disability and lives on a fixed income. She usually budgets exactly what she needs for the month.

"When I opened the bill and saw how high it was, it made me sick. I was not prepared for that at all," Crandell said.

Her total utility bill for December was $340. She says it's normally around $80 this time of year.

"I cannot pay this water bill," she said, adding that the city has sent her a turn-off notice.

City officials say they are aware of Crandell's situation, and have been working with her. They say she has a water leak somewhere on her end of the meter, spiking her water usage to 35,000 gallons in her most recent bill — triple her normal usage.

"That's impossible," Crandell said. "My husband is a plumber, and he's checked everything, including our sprinkler system."

Mandi Miller noticed her last bill was about what she was paying during the height of the summer.

"When we would normally pay $70 to $80 this time of year, we paid $150 on the last bill," Miller said.

Haltom City Assistant Manager Rex Phelps says as of Oct. 1, rates have gone up by eight percent.

"We try our best not to raise rates, but when your supplier is raising it, you don't have a choice. We don't have our own reservoir," Phelps said.

Fort Worth is the supplier for 33 nearby cities and towns, including Haltom City. All of those municipalities saw a rate increase as of Oct. 1. Phelps says Haltom City is still subsidizing the cost, which has gone up for the third straight year. That's only expected to rise further over the next three to five years. Right now, residents are paying $7.40 per 1,000 gallons of water usage with a base rate of $15.88.

Haltom City is installing smart meters in all 14,000 homes at no charge to residents, which will digitally record water usage. The installation will start in January and is expected to be complete by June. That is expected to keep water rates down and help residents monitor their usage.

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