North Texas

Shocking Water Bills Blamed on High Use

Water utility officials say there's a simple explanation for shocking water bills hitting North Texas customers this summer: high water use.

Fewer water use restrictions this summer because of high lake levels led to far more irrigation in hot, dry July and August weather.

Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden said the town's utility people are swamped with complaints.

"The town has received hundreds of inquiries from our residents, just calls about their bills, if possibly this could be correct," he said. "We're taking the residents' concerns seriously. We're auditing the software system. We're making sure the meters are correct."

The town admits erroneous bills went to 3,000 customers with no August usage included but those incorrect bills were quickly followed with accurate, much higher bills.

"But those bills and mistakes had nothing to do with the amount of consumption. It was just a software issue," Hayden said.

Flower Mound also has higher water rates than some other communities because of an expensive contract with one of two water suppliers, but Hayden said town water rates have not risen so far this year. He said high bills are from high usage.

"I'm aware of The Colony, Plano, Highland Village, Lewisville, Corinth, Irving, the list goes on," Hayden said. "It's essentially all of North Texas. There's a shock, 'Hey, this can't be possible I used this much water.'"

Bedford resident Delores Hayley had that shock after receiving her August bill for 19,000 gallons of water compared with 2,000 in July.

"It was a very big surprise, because of how large the spike was," she said. "It's never to my knowledge been that high before."

Bedford City Manager Roger Gibson investigated Hayley's water use history and found she did have high use in prior years. He said utility managers would work with the customer to verify the accuracy of her bills.

"It makes you kind of wonder what's going on that all of the cities can have this strange spiking," Hayley said.

"It is a North Texas phenomenon that is happening throughout all the communities," Flower Mound Mayor Hayden said.

Many cities offer meter auditing to help customers track high usage periods to reduce bills along with other conservation measures.

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