Local woman receives $5,000 water bill, many complain of increased charges
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Imagine getting a $5,000 water bill with little to no explanation. That was the case for a local woman who says she’s still not sure how Augusta Utilities got it so wrong.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen this problem, and many on Facebook say they feel like their bill was up this month too.
The Augusta Utilities Department says there are a variety of reasons a water bill might increase. Things like a leak, a toilet running, or of course, increased water use in the spring and summertime. But in the case of that $5,000 water bill, the department says the issue was simply human error.
The Augusta Utilities Department lives by their slogan ‘Water is life.’ But people like Cassandra Loftin, who lives in Richmond County, says that natural resource is costing them hundreds if not thousands of dollars a month.
“We need water!” said Loftin. “My paper statement came in saying I had 41,000 gallons of water used, and it’s just a family of four. There’s no way. We don’t have a pool. We don’t have any leaks. There are no issues going on.”
What she says was a $72 bill last month is more than $300 this month. Another woman was mistakenly charged for more than 1.2 million gallons of usage. A more than $5,000 bill.
“I just hope that we can get down to the bottom of this and can fix it because, I mean, we’re in a pandemic and we need help,” said Leadra Collins with Augusta Utilities.
She says if it’s not a leak or increased usage, the higher charges could be a human error like in the case of the $5,000 bill.
“We can look at the data to see what the usage has been over the past 40 days and once we do that, then we’re able to say it looks like during this period there was a lot of consumption or not,” said Collins.
She says all you have to do is pick up the phone.
“If you an issue, no matter how big or small you may feel it is, don’t hesitate to give us a call so that we can work with you,” she said.
Augusta Utilities says there has been no system error to cause people’s bills to increase. If you think there’s been a department error they say they’ll send someone to your home or business to re-read your meter. They also say if you have a leak you can bring them documentation that the leak has been repaired and they’ll work with you.
During the pandemic, Augusta Utilities was estimating people’s water usage based on their previous bills. Then they say they went back and looked at people’s actual readings and charged them accordingly. They said that did cause some errors in billing but they claim that’s all been sorted out now.
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