South Austin Irrigation thought we should let you know that more than 7,000 Austin residents discovered the importance of keeping tabs on water bills this September as they saw utility bills double, triple, or even multiply x 10 due to meter reading errors.
The incorrect meter reads occurred as the city transitioned between two city meter reading vendors. Corix Utilities performed August reads which were, in some cases, abnormally low, while September reads were performed by Bermex. It is unclear if the discrepancies were a result of human error or technical difficulties, said Robert Cullick of Austin Energy.
Austin resident O.T. Greer saw his water bill spike from $21 in August to $214 in September. His neighbors noticed similar patterns on their utility bills, and they organized to contact the City. Austin City Council Member Ellen Troxclair asked residents to contact her if they, too, find discrepancies on utility bills.
The Council Member noted that ongoing issues make it difficult for customers to trust that their bills are accurate.
“Audits have found that we have had issues with meter reading and of course there’s human error,” Troxclair said.
The city estimates about 7,400 customers were impacted by the misreads in August and September, with customers paying more across the two-month period than if the usage had been equally spread across the months.
An investigation into the problem showed that misreads were clustered on 135 out of 1,080 meter-reading routes.
The more than 7,000 Austin utility customers whose summer utility bill anomalies were determined to be related to incorrect meter readings will receive credits on water bills. Another 700 customers who had higher September bills compared to previous years may qualify for an additional High Bill Administrative Adjustment.
Customer credits average $20 and do not exceed $80 in most cases. Credits can be expected around mid-March. The total credit due to misreads will cost the city around $138,000, the city says.
Meter readers are now required to take photographs of each meter read. Although this process takes more time and money, the city has determined it is “necessary to create a visual record of each meter read.”
There you go. Remember when you need your irrigation system inspected or repaired, South Austin Irrigation is the company to call at (512) 534-7449.