Early last month, we had several Augusta residents reach out to us saying that their water bills had doubled. That prompted us to get answers from the director of Augusta Utilities. But for some, those answers weren't enough. That's why the West Augusta Alliance had a meeting on Monday night.
Many of the people in the meeting have been wondering why their water bills were so high this summer. Brad Padgett says his water bill is usually $70 a month, but he says his last two water bills were $150 each.
"It's high and as I asked the director, what's the average in Richmond County for a single family home? He said about 6,000 gallons. You would have to have around 24,000 gallons of usage to have a $150 a month bill."
For those with high water bills, the numbers just didn't add up. That's why they asked the Director of Augusta Utilities about the water rates.
"There was a lot of discussion about the issues, some of them are pretty complex, so it's good for us to be able to present our story," Director of Augusta Utilities Tom Wiedmeier says.
Wiedmeier broke down the water rates for residents, which he said was a difficult task. That's because the water rate goes up when you use more than 4,000 gallons of water a month. Wiedmeier says the increase was built into the rate structure to help families on fixed incomes, but not everybody is sold on that benefit.
"He did a great job of showing the structure of how they put all this together. Does it make sense? No," Lori Davis says.
Wiedmeier says their billing system is behind, which means a lot of times, people are looking at bills from earlier dates. But either way, Augusta Utilities is looking at improving their rate structure.
"Some of those things that confuse people and that cause problems, we're hoping to fix some of that. But, they were done for a reason and it is a balancing act and it's kind of an art to setting rates," Wiedmeier says.
But for many, the current rate structure just doesn't work.
"Some things to look at, but still don't feel good about it all," Padgett says.
Some Augusta residents also asked if Augusta Utilities was really reading every water meter in the county. Wiedmeier says they are, and if there's ever a problem with a reading, you can just call them to have your meter read again.
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