“I just need them to find out why they feel I’m using all this water”; some Augustans still receiving unusually high water bills


AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF — Some Augusta Utilities customers are receiving water bills they say are too high to be correct.

“Usually, [the bill is] $102. That’s the highest. But the last two months, my bills have been $255 and $272,” Augusta Utilities customer Cheryl McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin says she expected a high water bill in March after filling up her swimming pool, but she doesn’t understand why her April bill is even higher.

“This month the pool is full, and my bill is $272. I haven’t refilled the pool,” McLaughlin said.

She says she contacted Augusta Utilities, and was told it’s likely she has a leak causing the high water usage. McLaughlin says she had a contractor at her home, who did not find a leak.

“These kinds of leaks generally are not only hard to find, but they’re also the most difficult ones to figure out– are underground leaks. And most plumbers are not equipped to find underground leaks,” said Steven Little, Augusta Utilities assistant director of finance and administration. “What they do is, they go out and they look for visible leaks and they say, ‘You don’t have a visible leak.’ But the customer assumes that means, ‘I have no leaks’.”

Little says Augusta Utilities has already been in the process of replacing all older water meters. They say there are no issues with the meters, they’re just updating the technology.

“What we wanna do is, when somebody has a high bill, if they have the newer technology– one of the newer meters– we have a device on there, an electronic device, that actually records a reading every hour of every day so that you can see patterns of consumption,” Little said.

This device could help someone like McLaughlin determine if there’s a leak, or narrow down any high water usage habits.

Cassandra Loftin, who shared her high water bills with NewsChannel 6 last month, says after the story aired, Augusta Utilities installed a new meter at her home.

“I’ve got her scheduled in two weeks to go back out there, once we have a little bit of data, we need a couple weeks of data, to pull this report and see what’s going on,” Little said. “If she’s sprinkling, if she’s got a toilet issue, if she’s got a leak or something like that.”

But McLaughlin says she has not received a new meter. She says she’s looking for answers, and doesn’t feel she’s getting anywhere.

“I just need them to find out why they feel I’m using all this water,” McLaughlin said.

Little says if you feel there is an issue with your water bill, call customer service. If you don’t feel like your questions have been answered, Little says you should ask to speak with a supervisor.

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