Because you may soon get a surprise water bill

Houston residents are left reeling as their water bills skyrocket due to new electronic reading devices that are designed to give accurate meter readings. The KPRC 2 Investigates team has been delving into this issue, which has left the public feeling “DRAINED”. Investigator Amy Davis has provided some advice on what people can do, even if they haven’t yet received one of the large bills.

Houston Water Autopay customers have been warned to check their accounts as thousands of old and obsolete electronic reading devices are being replaced. The city has not provided any warning before these devices arrive, and customers who have had their fixture replaced have been hit with unexpectedly large water bills in recent weeks.

Rick Naranjo, a Houston resident, noticed workmen attaching these devices to meter covers and replacing the log showing his meter reading. When questioned about the changes, Naranjo stated, “I think all of that has changed. It’s all new.” It is not just Naranjo who has been affected; other residents in the Kirkwood area have received bills with significant price hikes.

The increase in bills has led to many people contacting the Houston water department for an explanation. The department has acknowledged the problem and apologized for any stress and confusion caused by these incorrect bills, stating that they are proactively contacting affected customers. The new reading devices are intended to transmit meter readings to the department, replacing most of the outdated models installed in the 1990s.

The replacement effort is currently underway and will continue for the next few years. While the Houston Public Works department has not given exact details of where these fixtures will be first installed, customers have reported that Sagemont and areas near I-10 and Eldridge have received new devices. These customers have received KPRC 2 Investigates invoices, some of which total over $4,000.

While the department claims to be aware of the billing errors, they have not confirmed whether customers will be required to pay for water they were not billed for previously. Many old meters have not been working for years, and as a result, some customers who have been paying only $30 a month have not been billed for water usage. The new reading devices mean that these customers may get bills for thousands of liters of water, leaving them shocked.

Houston residents are advised to check their usage history and save past bills to keep track of their water usage. In cases where the devices are being replaced, the usage history may be lost, making it difficult for customers to keep track of their water usage. The KPRC 2 Investigates team recommends that if anyone has any questions about their water bill, they should send their information and get added to the list of people who need help.

Content and Photo credit go to Texas Standard

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