It may not be much consolation to residents facing high water bills, but DeKalb County officials say they’ve significantly reduced billing and metering mistakes.
Out of 190,000 water customers in DeKalb, the number of errors that occurred when the government miscalculated a bill declined from 1,140 in the first half of 2014 to 468 in the first half of this year, according to county figures provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The number of errors caused by bad meter readings dropped from 858 in the first half of 2014 to 228 through June of this year.
Most of the time, residents’ bills go up because they’ve increased their water consumption, especially during summer months when lawns need watering.
Customer water usage was the reason that bills rose 71 percent of the time, according to a 2014 county audit of bills that more than tripled. Water leaks and irrigation systems accounted for another 16 percent, and the county was responsible for billing spikes 13 percent of the time.
One of the solutions for DeKalb’s water billing problems is to complete the installation of more accurate digital water meters that wirelessly transmit usage information. So far, about 20,000 of these smart meters have been put in place, and it will take four or five years for the rest to be installed.
The smart meters are expected to reduce mistakes because they’ll record water usage hourly and remove the human element of reading older mechanical meters.
Once communities are switched over to the new meters, customers will start receiving bills monthly instead of bimonthly, which will enable residents and the government to find errors more quickly. In addition, the county’s water billing system is continually being updated to reduce miscalculations.
DeKalb government customer service representatives continue to receive about 32,000 calls per month. Requests to delay billing payments, make payments and set up new service are the most frequent reasons for calls. Average call wait times have decreased from more than 13 minutes two years ago to about two minutes so far this year.
So they are telling us that the Smart Meter will fix all of the over billing going on? Yea, right. One thing that most likely happens, is when a property owner decides to tap into the water line, prior to the water going through the meter, someone has to pay for all of these water thefts. Like I am the house, in line, right before the house, where that happens. I have good pix of the plumber over there sitting on the ground partially in a hole, unwinding the blue water line that he connected before the meter.
The County tells me that I am not being billed for something like that. But think about it. The water gets lost at my house, then for the next couple of houses, which are in some stage of foreclosure or another, so maybe five addresses down, on the same side, a whole bunch of water goes missing. Who do you think will be paying for it? The guy who tapped in before the meter, or me?
There is really no telling how many people are doing this. We watched the house, the plumber, etc. and took pix of the doing it. There is no question about what had been done. They began working on it at 3 AM and ended up taking a sledge hammer to the old meter. You can’t tell that the meter worked after 3 big men beat the hell out of it in the middle of the night.
We are told, that there are no code violations at that house. HA! Maybe we should all begin stealing the damned water.