Apartments handing over water bill

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock, September 3, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Some apartment communities around Augusta are saying we quit when it comes to paying water bills for their renters. Most apartments aren't built with individual water meters, so the company foots the bill. But now, they can divide it out, and make you pay for what you use.

Running water. Something many renters take for granted, at least they do at the apartment complex Holly Smith runs. The average monthly bill is almost $10,000.

"When you're not paying for it, you sometimes abuse it," says Smith, the Community Manager at Madison on the Green.

That's one of the reasons her company has decided to look into their options of sub-metering their water. "The meter spins 24 hours a day," says Smith.

Other apartment communities around Augusta have already changed their bills. ATC Development --which has nearly 2,000 apartments in the area-- has a third party split the bill and charge each unit.
Managers there say, it's conserved water. "Once it's initiated on the property it starts saving 25 to 35 percent of water volume," says Leah McKenzie the Property Manager at ATC.

Timothy Davis has lived in an ATC apartment for the last eight years. He says now that he's paying the bill, he's using less water. "When that faucet's dripping and I'm brushing my teeth and the water's just running, I run back in there and turn it off," says Davis.

Right now the water usage for each complex is added up and divided out by the number of bedrooms, not by the number of people living in the apartment. That means you could be paying more or less than you actually use.

"You have a family of four in a two bedroom versus you have one person living in a two bedroom with an office. The family would use a lot more water," says Smith.

But ATC says it's still the fairest way to do the math. "The one thing we can be 100 percent concrete on and feel good about offering our residents is we know how many bedrooms in the apartment," says McKenzie.

Timothy agrees, and believes in the end that he's still saving money. "You never know how many occupants are in the house, but what's standard, what's consistent, is the bedrooms," says Davis.

There was a legislative bill that failed last session and is expected to come back this year that would require new apartments be fit with their own meters and each individual be charged for their exact usage.


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