Hundreds of gallons on water meter leaves Kansas City couple wit - KCTV5 News

Hundreds of gallons on water meter leaves Kansas City couple with questions

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Your water balance is split into three categories: water, wastewater and stormwater. They're all raised separately. (KCTv5) Your water balance is split into three categories: water, wastewater and stormwater. They're all raised separately. (KCTv5)

If you're tired of water rate increases, don't expect any relief any time soon.

Thanks to the city trying to catch up on federal regulations, those will increase for years to come. But what about inaccurate usage?

KCTV5 News spoke to customers and the city to find out if you could be getting a wrong reading.

Julia Bosley says when she got a notification about high usage in May, she had no idea what to expect.

“We checked our usage and it said 823 gallons one day, 598 gallons the next day, and then it went back down to normal, only 37 gallons,” she said.

When she called the water department they said there was probably a leak.

“And we're like, that would be more than a leak and we would notice it,” she said.

Water Services Director Terry Leeds said they've heard the concern before.

“When water was cheap, people probably didn't pay that much attention to a $2 change in their water bill, and now it's not $2 or $3, it's $20s or $30s of dollars. So they notice that,” he said.

Water meters are found in the home, but then they wirelessly transmit the data for usage.

“We meter the water. The meter operates pretty simply, and if there's water running through it, the meter is registering water use,” customer service officer Kathleen Whalen said.

According to the water department, Bosley did use that water, but when she got the bill, she noticed the balance seemed normal. "We got the bill and it was only $80 which is what we paid the previous month," she said. "So, there was no letter from them stating that there was an error on their part on the reading, they never said anything."

Why no letter? The water department says there was no error on their part. 

"We monitor the system pretty closely and the malfunctions we do see are more in signals, but the actual meter in the basement itself, either it reads or it doesn't read," said Leeds. “But as far as a misreading, would it read high? We know we've had some folks complain about that, but we don't have any documentation, and we've talked to the meter folks as well about that issue. What could cause it, other than actual use?” Leeds said.

Which leads to another question: if the water was used, why didn't Bosley receive a higher bill?

Kansas City Water Services says it's because water usage between summer and winter are calculated differently.

In the summer, the department compares your water usage to your winter usage, in hopes of preventing overcharging you for water that ends up in the sewer which has seen the biggest increase in price. 

Your water balance is split into three categories: water, waste water and storm water. They're all raised separately.

While storm water rates have consistently stayed at their 2004 level of $2.50, the other two have risen.

Between fiscal years 2009 and 2018, general water rates for the average customer went from around $23.47 to $38.67.

However, the biggest increase comes from the changes the federal government told Kansas City Water Services they had to put in place with their sewer systems. That requirement came with no government assistance, causing prices to rise from $22.19 in the fiscal year 2009 to nearly triple that in the fiscal year 2018 to $61.24.

"So if people are watering their grass or their flowers of their garden and the water is not getting in the sewer system, then we don't want to charge them for that," said Whalen. 

Bosley still says that there's no way she used that water, but now her concern is more for this happening to other people. 

"I would just be concerned for others to go through this and also I just think it's an unnecessary amount of stress for a customer to have to go through."

The water department points out with many leaks, you may not realize it's even happening, like an issue with a toilet flapper or a leak in an area you don't normally go to.

Leeds says if you have concerns about your water usage or your bill, to call 311 and choose option No. 1. 

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