Residents Voice Concerns Over ‘Outrageous Water Bills' in Haltom City

Some residents say they have little faith in the smart meters and want them out

Melanie Montgomery used to take her time washing dishes. But lately, she feels rushed and paranoid about letting the water run too long.

"It’s very frustrating," Montgomery said. Back in January, her bill was $82. Fast forward to July — it nearly tripled.

"The last four years we’ve used same amount of water every year," said Montgomery.

But according to her bill, she used 349 more water this year compared to last year.

"There’s one day that I looked up that it shows 25 gallons of water every single hour. How is that possible?" she asked.

Montgomery said it all started when Haltom City took out the old water meters and hired a company, called Fathom, to install smart meters.

"When I called they just said, 'well, that’s what it shows so that’s what it is,'" said Montgomery.

NBC 5 Responds heard from more than 50 people in Haltom City whose bills have also skyrocketed.

"Our water bill went from $141 to $332 for two people," said Mary Hunter.

Bottom line: They do not trust these smart meters. The people we spoke with said there is no way their water usage could increase this much in a year’s time.

"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," Hunter said.

Rex Phelps, Haltom City's Assistant City Manager, said many residents have 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," he said.

The city brought in Fathom to manage the smart meters and its billing system, which Phelps said will ultimately save the city money.

"When water is used we had to pay Fort Worth for it," he said. "We were losing millions of gallons a year that we were having to pay Fort Worth, which probably translates to a million dollars a year, or more."

The city admits that the new system has not been all smooth sailing. Earlier this year, they experienced billing glitches that affected about 200 residents.

"We do empathize with them but we do know that the new meters are accurate," said Phelps.

But the residents we spoke with said they have little faith in the smart meters and want them out. The residents have started a petition to do away with this new smart meter system altogether.

Haltom City said it will continue to host town hall meetings and will meet with people one-on-one to help them understand the bills and regain their trust.

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