$16,000 water bill stuns homeowners — “the only explanation” is the Smart Meter

California American Water Company refuses to tell the public that Smart Meters can cause these outrageous bills, most likely due to RF interference with the meter.

How many incorrect but not so outrageous bills do people get and pay rather than fight?

This water company has dealt with these high bills for several years now, not just in California. They are covering up for the meter industry and for the Smart Meter program. And who’s paying?

From the Carmel Pine Cone
August 5-11 edition
by Mary Schley

The water bill for this Camino Real vacation home went way beyond what was usual – and far beyond what anyone could anticipate – but no one is sure what happened to the more than 144,000 gallons that were supposedly used.

When Kellie Meyers received a postcard from California American Water warning her that too much water was being used at the home on Camino Real she and her husband own, she knew there was a problem What Meyers wasn’t prepared for was the $16,668.90 water bill she got – including a $14,181.24 fee for May 7 to June 7, and $2,487.66 for June9 to July 8.

“My husband got the bill and almost had a heart attack,” Meyers said.

They’d already been working with the water company to reduce water use and check for leaks at the house following a few bills earlier in the year that exceeded $1,000. They had also repaired a leak that caused a spike – but nothing In the nature of a five-digit figure.

“I sent an urgent message to my gardener to shut off the water and let the garden die, because it would be cheaper to replace it all than to have the water on,” Meyers said. “And I told my cleaning lady to make sure there were no toilets running, or anything like that.”

The bill for the period of May 7 to June 7 showed a total of 144,663 gallons of water used, or an average of 4 ,521 gallons per day, at a time when nobody was living there.

And it was 1,154 gallons per day from June 8 to July 7, when the house was also unoccupied. Average water use in the Monterey Peninsula is about 50 gallons per day per person.

Won’t be on the hook

The huge bills obviously resulted from a leak or some other malfunction, Cal Am spokeswoman Catherine Stedman said. The home’s water meter electronically transmits the flow rate to the utility hourly, and an examination of account records shows that starting at 7:49 pm on May 2, the meter reported a rate of more than 180 gallons per hour, 24 hours a day, until June 13, when it slowed to 105 gallons at 6:49 pm, and dropped to zero at 7:49 pm.

“I don’t know what the cause was,” she said. “It would appear like an irrigation leak.” Since then, water use on the property has returned to normal, with zero most days, and numbers consistent with garden maintenance, household use and cleaning on the other days.

The charges were so high not only because of the water used, but because state regulations require Cal Am to set its prices to penalize customers who exceed their allotted use, with prices ranging from nine-tenths of a cent per gallon In the lowest tier, all the way up to 13 cents per gallon in the highest billing tier.

“The purpose of the rates is to drive down consumption so that we can stay in compliance.” with regulatory requirements that strictly limit how much water Monterey Peninsula residents can sue, Stedman said.

She also said the couple won’t have to pay the huge bills, since they’re cooperating with an audit of their property to help identify any problems – the same process they undertook to fix the leak a couple of years ago.

‘Historic use’

“We’ll go through their house and look at their fixtures, and see how much they could save,” Stedman explained. “We’ll go and make recommendations, check for leaks, and then outdoors, we check the irrigation system and make sure there are no broken sprinkler heads that could be contributing to water loss.”

The analyst also ensures any timers are set correctly.

The service is free and available to all Cal Am customers, and in this case, it’s the key to getting Meyers’ water bill reduced to what it would normally be, based on historic use, according to Stedman. That no cause was identified doesn’t matter.

“Either way, they’re not going to have to pay the bill,” she said. “There are some cases where no one can figure out what happened, and we’ll still adjust the bill.”

Stedman also said the water company has joined a pilot program that allows some customers to go online and look at their hourly usage and see what’s typical for a similar customer.

“So for example, you could set your online account up so that if your water use is double than average on any particular day, you would get a text or an email – your preference – letting you know you may have a leak.” Stedman said.

“That way, you don’t have to wait 30 days until we read the meter to find out there’s a problem.”

It’s been successful, and the company is applying to the California Public Utilities Commission to make the program available to all its customers.

Meyers said she’s relieved to hear she won’t have to pay the $16,668.90 bill, but she’s frustrated by the lack of an explanation. since we have no floods in the yard or water damage in the house, where in the heck did all that supposed water go? Even if we had a toilet running while we were gone, it wouldn’t fill up 180 gallons per hour,” she said.

The water could have leaked underground and disappeared into the soil, of course. But since no leak was found, Meyers wondered if the meter itself was faulty.

“It seems the only explanation,” she said.


Posted under Fair Use Rules.

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