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Buckeye resident blames water meter failure for spike in bill – City Says Nope

For weeks, and in some cases, months, many Buckeye residents have been growing increasingly frustrated over what to do about mysterious usage increases on their water bills.
water meter failure

One homeowner saw his bill increase from $160 to nearly $900 for a single month, then return to normal.
Another woman’s bill showed she used over 77,000 gallons in a single month, enough to fill several large backyard swimming pools.

All had their properties inspected and claimed they found no leaks, the most likely cause, according to Buckeye Utility Billing Services.
Most, if not all of those residents reached out to our newsrooms after they say their complaints fell on deaf ears.

There are now nearly two dozen homeowners who say they’re being billed for water they never used. Sometimes thousands of gallons and thousands of dollars are seeming to go right down the drain.
The city says a leak is likely to blame, but one woman has another theory behind these mysterious charges. She blames a water meter error.

“It spikes, and then it goes back down,” said Michelle Mackillop.

After being handed a sky-high bill in September, Mackillop had her suspicions.
“That can’t indicate a leak, a leak does not repair itself,” she said.

According to her water meter, she had used more than 46 thousand gallons.

“I’ve been out here for 12 years, a person’s habits don’t typically change,’ said Mackillop.

She asked the City of Buckeye to come look at it. It failed the inspection. She has paperwork to prove it.
The city replaced the equipment, but Mackillop is still stuck with her bill.

“They did offer me $180 off, of a $1200 bill,” she said. “It’s not fair. I don’t owe this.”
She’s now resorting to drastic measures, monitoring her use every day.

“I have to go out there with a flashlight in the morning to check it. And right now, I don’t even know when I can stop. Until this is resolved. I’m going to be a hawk on this thing.”

One after another, more and more residents have been coming forward with similar billing complaints.  Mackillop says she can’t speculate they have the same problem, but she knows one thing is for sure, she has no leak.

“They won’t even consider any other possibilities, but they have enough people now that have invested their time and their money into proving that they don’t have a leak, what is the city of buckeye, what are they going to invest to determine what other problems could exist that is creating this phenomenon,” said Mackillop.

Thursday, the City of Buckeye announced it would send Water Resource personnel to homes at the customers’ request to “provide suggestions on how to detect the source of an excessive water usage pattern,” saying “Buckeye takes very seriously any concerns its residents have about higher utility bills.”
water meter failure

Last week, the Buckeye City Council approved just over a million dollars to upgrade all of its customers’ water meters. It says the added technology will let residents log onto their account several times a day to check on their home’s water usage patterns.
That project is expected to be completed in June of 2017.

Council member Craig Heustis says he has spoken to the Mayor and several other City Council Members about residents’ concerns.. “I don’t like people having $1,100 water bills,” said Heustis.
But Heustis says none of these residents ever called him for help. He says if residents ever has issues getting calls returned from any city department, don’t forget to try your City Council member.

The City of Buckeye says customers can also call 623-349-6100 to discuss their individual accounts during regular business hours,  Monday through Thursday.

Copyright 2016 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

Source: Buckeye resident blames water meter failure for spike in bill – City Says Nope

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