Many of you in Richmond County want to know why your water bill doubled... and in some cases tripled this month. We went looking for answers.
We've had several emails come in asking if water rates have gone up. We checked into it... And Augusta Utilities says the rate went up by 3% in April, as it does every year. But many people say they have noticed more than a 3% increase on their water bill.
Lori Davis says her latest water bill is the highest she has ever seen it.
"Last month, our bill was very minimal and then this month it was actually double. Which really caught my eye because, as you see, we have a pool, and we have not had to put any water in this pool all summer," Davis says.
There are dozens of other people who also noticed a higher water bill. And because of all the rain in June and July, most people haven't been using their sprinkler systems, so their water usage shouldn't have gone up. We went to the director of Augusta Utilities for answers. Tom Wiedmeier says one of the reasons bills may look higher is because they are mailed out 35 days after the meter is read.
"May was a very dry month. It started raining in June and July, and people knew they weren't watering during June and July, but they were looking at bill for May's consumption," Wiedmeier says.
Wiedmeier also says bills go up by about 50% if you use more than 4,000 gallons of water a month.
About half of the water meters in Augusta are smart meters, which means they can be read electronically. But some people who don't have smart meters say that their water meters haven't been read in months.
Some say their water meters have been covered with dirt and debris for months, which leads them to believe Augusta Utilities is making up numbers. We asked Wiedmeier if that was the case. He says his employees read every meter.
"Your water meter is like an odometer on a car, so if we go back out and re-read and it makes sense, and it's in the range of what was reported, your meter was read," says Wiedmeier.
But the numbers just don't make sense for some, and that's why they want more transparency.
"The hand is quicker than the eye. I don't know what's going on and most people are saying this just isn't right," Davis says.
Wiedmeier says the reason that water bills go up when you use more than 4,000 gallons of water is to alleviate the bills for fixed-income families who may use less water than others.
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