Readers Write: A $3,500 water bill?

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Editor:

On July 13, we received a bill from the Idyllwild Water District for the month of June for $3,518.29.  It shows

usage from June 2 to July 2 of 33,330 cubic feet or  249,308 gallons of water.

We were on the Hill from June 2 to 7; we were absent until July 15.

The bill for May was $28.70, during which time we were not here.  In fact, we have not received a monthly water bill in  24 years at this residence in excess of $200, even when there was a demonstrable leak for the period.

On July 14, I called IWD to inquire about what we assumed was an error in billing.  With the IWD tech at the meter that day while I was on the call, it was confirmed that there was no water running through the meter and, therefore, no ongoing “leak.”  The meter otherwise tested as accurate for water flow, as it did two more times in my presence.

Notwithstanding that a thorough inspection of the premises showed absolutely no evidence whatsoever of a leak either inside the house or anywhere on the property, IWD maintains that, even though there is no credible explanation as to where 249,308 gallons of water could have gone (14 18,000-gallon water-tank trucks being filled 24/7 for weeks on end?), the meter is accurate and the bill is owed, with an offer for us to pay one-half of the bill under a new one-time only  “catastrophic event” policy.

Although we certainly appreciate the offer, it is difficult to accept at this time because we do not know if this event is concluded, nor do we accept that we somehow received this water.

Naturally, we are confounded by this situation.  We attended IWD’s July 19 meeting and inquired about the security and safety measures to prevent this type of occurrence on the Hill:  There are none.  The ability to hack an accessible mechanical meter is demonstrated in dozens of YouTube videos.  Could that have occurred here?  We suppose no one will ever know.

We remain confused, frustrated and vulnerable.  IWD immediately changed the the meter to the new digital model, but security remains an issue.

Bob Geary/David Bridgman

Idyllwild

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  1. Bob/David, unfortunately it is possible for a family to use this much water in a single month, and not know it. If you have a spare bathroom which had a running toilet which went unnoticed, it is possible to have an increase in water use that large. A wide-open flapper can use 3-5.5 gallons per minute, which is within the amount you were charged for (even with no other water use in the home). My company has researched this problem specifically and found that many people, even water professionals, are unaware of the magnitude of the problem with running toilets (wide-open flappers). It one of the reasons we developed our product the LeakAlertor. As for whether the event is concluded, it’s very possible for this to repeat itself many time over, unless you have a way of detecting wide-open flappers and leaking toilets. I wish both of you all the best.

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    • The toilet water source was turned off for the period, so there was no possibility of that type of leak. But thanks for the thought.

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