High water bills in some areas of Kaufman and nearby communities have left many residents with questions about how their services are being billed. Claims of sudden increases in bills have come from water customers in the City of Kaufman, College Mound Special Utility District, and others.
“In 2018 we remodeled and put in new faucets, showerheads, and toilets, but this year it’s not making a difference,” said Josh Patel, manager of the Countryside Inn located on Fair Street. “I feel like it’s been higher than normal and the bill cycles have been extended as well, they're billing us for 40 or 45 days at a time.”
When readers of The Kaufman Herald were asked via facebook if they have experienced a recent increase in their water bill, many, such as Richard Adams, spoke up.
“We live in College Mound. They put in new electronic meters, and my bill went up over 100 dollars,” Adams said. “Someone needs to investigate this ongoing issue.”
According to Kaufman City Manager Mike Slye, customers who get their water through the City of Kaufman received longer than average billing cycles due to COVID-19. “It is a direct function of having a 48-day billing cycle, because I had no one to read the meters,” said Slye, “This particular billing cycle my meter readers were battling COVID.”
Another reason for hefty water bills, according to Slye, is high temperatures. “It’s very hot and usage is always higher than it is in the colder months, so people are using more water,” said Slye.
Meanwhile, for nearby customers of the College Mound Special Utility District, “there are several reasons why it could be higher,” said General Manager Shirley Thompson. “We began putting notice out last October and November, telling everyone we were changing out the meters to ultrasonic meters, and they actually register every drop of water, while the others did not.” Thompson explained that their old meters were unable to register slow, continuous leaks, which are now being detected and billed. “Because this new meter is registering every drop of water, they need to fix any leaks they have. Whether it’s just a drip, that’s going to cause the bill to go up, because the old meters weren’t registering it.” When continuous leaks are detected, Thompson says the College Mound Special Utility District works to contact the customer and alert them about the issue. Thompson also said she believes COVID-19 has impacted water bills, by causing families to stay home more than usual, leading to more water use.
Thompson also explained that most customers aren’t seeing workers reading the meters in their yard.
“We are able to read 90% of the meters digitally now, from the office,” she said.