CHICKASHA, Okla. – Residents are noticing their water bills increase by quite a bit following the installation of new meters.
“For most of us here, it’s an inconvenience,” said Jim Hopkins, a Chickasha resident.
Hopkins said he was shocked when he got a recent water bill.
“I got a bill for about $33, which I did not think was abnormal. I just thought I had used a little bit less water. That was the bill that was from March to April,” Hopkins said.
Then Hopkins was hit with a $54 bill for April to May.
“After I checked around for leaks and everything, I went down to the city, and they didn’t really have a good explanation for it. Now, they had changed out the water meter during that time which was my first suspicion,” Hopkins said.
The city changed out those old water meters and replaced them with smart meters.
City manager Alan Guard said this transition caused multiple billing issues.
“When you change a meter out, the old meter may have had a reading of say 10,000 gallons. The new meter says zero and, when you put those two numbers into the computer, the computer thinks, well, they’ve just used 90,000 gallons and, in fact, they hadn’t used any,” Guard said.
Those customers received bills as high as $60,000.
“Once we heard about one or two of them, we went through all of the bills individually, and we had, I want to say, around 23 or 24 of them, and we called those folks and said ‘Hey, you’re going to get a big bill, just ignore it,’” Guard said.
The second problem was with the old meters.
Some of them had stopped reading usage correctly, meaning some people were used to only paying a minimum fee.
“So, they go from $30 to $70, and they’re water usage hasn’t changed. So, they come in, and they talk to us,” Guard said.
Guard said people are encouraged to bring their water bills to city hall if they have any questions.