Water meter customer notice 03/27/2023
March 27, 2023
March 27, 2023
Notice to Customers of Evergreen Water & Sewer District
IN THE LAST 2 WEEKS, WE HAVE GOTTEN CALLS ABOUT MARCH BILL FOR FEBRUARY USAGE BEING HIGHER THAN NORMAL FOR SOME CUSTOMERS. THIS IS PROBABLY DUE TO A PROBLEM WITH OUR NEW REMOTE METER-READING EQUIPMENT.
IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS, PLEASE CALL THE OFFICE.
HERE’S MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR METERS:
How does the meter work?
Your bill for both water and sewer use is determined by the amount of water that flows through a meter installed in or near your home or business.
What’s the problem with your meters?
Water meters are replaced as they wear out, usually over a span of about 10-15 years. We know they have failed when they show zero use in a home or business that is occupied. In the last year, the District has had a higher than normal failure rate of meters due to the age of our system. If you get a notice to replace your meter, please respond promptly so we can schedule the work.
How is my bill figured if my meter fails?
After meters are read each month, the District gets a report on meters that read zero. For those customers, typically monthly charges are estimated based on their previous year’s use. When a new meter is installed that meter starts at zero, which means that there is no adjustment on your bill for any prior use.
Why can’t you replace a meter in the same month it fails so the readings are based on actual use instead of estimates.
The challenge since Covid is that the District’s supplier of meters has been severely backlogged, which prevented new meters from being installed on a routine basis. Also, the District field staff is down to three full-time people right now, which means that meter replacement has to be juggled with other critical repairs that have a higher priority.
My meter hasn’t failed, so why am I getting a bill that doesn’t show my actual use?
Over the past 5 years, the District has been moving toward remote meter reading to save cost and increase accuracy of the reads. That requires new equipment to be installed on the meters and also new computer equipment in the District trucks to read the meters. In the past six months, the District Staff has experienced a higher than normal failure to obtain readings from the new computer equipment. Staff has been working with the manufacturer to trouble shoot the new equipment. In the meantime, customers with meters that weren’t reading properly were sent minimum base-cost bills, which did not reflect the additional charges for the amount of water each customer was actually using.
What is a “minimum base-cost bill?”
This is a bill that has the base rate charge but no charge for actual gallons used. If you check your use on your monthly bill, you will see that the charge for actual gallons used in zero if you are receiving this kind of bill. That bill can be adjusted/rebilled by the District once the actual use is read, which is why certain customers are seeing larger than normal bills when they had been receiving much smaller than normal bills.
When are you going to fix your remote reading equipment?
In the past month, the District Staff has found a remedy for the communication equipment (new antennas) and has begun getting accurate readings from the meters. We are still testing this fix and also are in discussions with the manufacturer about this issue. This past month, bills that were sent out reflect the fix.
Why am I getting such a high bill now that the remote reading equipment is fixed?
What is happening is that certain customers are being back-billed for actual water use and thus are seeing higher bills, in some cases much higher bills than expected. We can verify that the bills are accurate from the actual reading on the meter, but that still doesn’t make it comfortable to have to pay a high bill even though the previous months’ bills were much lower than normal.
Is this the District’s fault?
The District apologizes for the difficulties and concerns this has caused our customers. We are trying to be fair to all our customers. Being fair means that if you used the water, you should pay for it. But we also realize that unexpected high bills are especially challenging in these tough economic times. If you are having problems paying your bill or want to have someone go over a detailed explanation of your bill, including a double-check on the actual use through your meter, please contact the office.
Once this meter issue is resolved, what else can I do to lower my water and sewer bill?
This issue demonstrates the importance of customers carefully reviewing the amount of water used each month, which can help you identify leaks or take steps to reduce your water consumption like limiting shower time or lawn watering in the summer. With summer coming, please consult our website to see water conservation tips, which can help you manage your bills.