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Augusta customers experience spike in water bills

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 11:12 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A spike in water bill and complaints rolling into Augusta utilities. Many customers at the end of their rope and close to the bottom of their wallet. Their concerns have made it all the way into commission chambers.

Commissioner Clarke is the one who added this to the agenda. He’s gotten a lot of complaints and the utilities department admits they’re hearing more complaints too.

“...We knew something weird was happening,” said Aspasia & Stephen Luster.

Aspasia and Stephen Luster have lived in their home off Washington Road for 11 years. Their water bill has always been about $50 or $60 a month. Then suddenly in February their bill nearly doubled to $98 then $111 the next month.

“But our water pressure remained the same. We didn’t find any evidence of leaks, some people said maybe it’s leaking under the slab, but there weren’t any wet spots in the yard,” said Aspasia & Stephen Luster.

They reached out to the utilities director and after nearly a month of waiting the assistant director said the increase was due to a meter reader “Not being careful on your account” and misreading the meter twice.

“I’m not gonna say it’s common, but it happens,” said Leadra Collins, Augusta Public Information Officer.

Its not just misreads other people have seen what they consider suspicious bill increases too. The utilities department says increased bills could be caused by more lawn watering, leaks, faulty toilets or late fees. Some people like Linda Newsome who saw nearly a $500 increase are not buying it.

“Sometimes in the summertime it’ll jump up to $90 if we’re doing a lot of extra laundry or fill up the little pool for the kids but never $664,” said Linda Newsome, a woman who’s water bill increased.

Whatever the issues utilities says a phone call could make the difference.

“We always encourage the customers to give us a call. Let us take a look at the accounts. Let us discuss the bill, and see where we may be able to assist them,” said Collins.

So as for the Lusters, the utilities department upgraded their meter. For Newsome she had to provide proof she didn’t have any leaks, and they lowered her bill back to the normal price of about $65 a month. But as for now they’re just taking and addressing each complaint on a case by case basis.

They say not to be alarmed by a slight increase this summer. The normal amount a family of three or four might see around this time of year is about six to 10,000 more gallons used a month. That’s just due to people spending more time at home. But again the utilities department says if you think there’s a problem, give them a call on their customer service line at 706-821-1851.

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