Your water meter has become stuck and so your aren't being billed for water usage. What do you do about that?

Submitted by XBoxBoy on November 13, 2015 - 8:03am
Nothing, the water bills are outrageously high even with zero water use.
38% (8 votes)
Wait for a couple of billing cycles to see if the city figures it out.
38% (8 votes)
Notify the city that the meter needs to be fixed.
24% (5 votes)
Total votes: 21
Submitted by XBoxBoy on November 13, 2015 - 8:04am.

Here's the scenario: Two months ago we got our water bill. It was lower than usual (about $300 instead of the usual $400) and showed that we had cut our water usage in half. (I figured, "Boy cutting back watering to 2x a week for 5min. per station really helped!") This billing cycle we got our water bill and it's lower still ($198) but looking at it I noticed that the water used is 0 hcf. Now, as hard as we've been about trying to conserve it just isn't realistic that we've used 0 hcf of water in two months. At first I thought the meter guy must've misread the meter or something. But after checking it I've found the meter is stuck. So the dilemma of what to do?

And by the way even with zero water used the bill is for $198 to cover sewer fees.

Submitted by no_such_reality on November 13, 2015 - 8:19am.

I'd guess they never figure it out. There's so many empty houses unless the reader sees the water never likely to notice and even then not realize.

Much like the broken pipes plaguing LA, makes you wonder how many are malfunctioning out there.

That said I'd probably notify them after a bill or two to head of the future hassle.

Submitted by bababooey on November 13, 2015 - 8:27am.

Once they figure out there is an issue, they will go back and estimate your usage based on this time last year and bill you. So, if you are conserving, probably best to get it taken care of sooner rather then later.

I've had the opposite problem, meter reader read a digit wrong and my bill went from $180 to $1800. Asked them how they can't flag stuff like this? It would take 5 lines of python to crawl the dB and look for stuff like that. They said they don't have a way to flag potential issues.

The most resent issue I've had with the water dept was them sending me 2 checks for $300 for (over payment), then shutting my water off the same week for no payment being received.

Submitted by svelte on November 13, 2015 - 9:02am.

I've got a friend in San Diego that noticed his bill was exactly the same each month. Checking his meter, he noticed it was covered with dirt and therefore couldn't be read. He called the water dept and told them the situation. They said oh yes, we've been reading your meter every month.

He shrugged and hung up.

Submitted by livinincali on November 13, 2015 - 11:30am.

bababooey wrote:
Once they figure out there is an issue, they will go back and estimate your usage based on this time last year and bill you. So, if you are conserving, probably best to get it taken care of sooner rather then later.

I used to work for the company that handled the water billing system about 12 years ago and this is exactly correct. They will estimate your bill and charge you for the water they think you used. Problem with just leaving it is that at some point they may think the acct is inactive and shut your water off. Then you got to call them to get it back on and then they probably figure it out.

Quote:

I've had the opposite problem, meter reader read a digit wrong and my bill went from $180 to $1800. Asked them how they can't flag stuff like this? It would take 5 lines of python to crawl the dB and look for stuff like that. They said they don't have a way to flag potential issues.

Well at least 10 years ago, it might not be any more, it was a DB2 database that stored things in HEX codes to save space from the good old days and the programming was done in COBOL. In addition there were so many special cases about who paid what for water that a flag system would probably flag 10% of the half a million accounts or so because that acct was somehow special. Maybe they finally upgraded it but I'm sure it took them years to do it.

Submitted by XBoxBoy on November 13, 2015 - 11:47am.

no_such_reality wrote:
I'd guess they never figure it out. There's so many empty houses ...

This of course begs the question of just how many stuck meters are out there. How much money is the city losing by not flagging this issue?

Submitted by poorgradstudent on November 13, 2015 - 4:11pm.

I wouldn't try to call the city and be put on hold just to deal with this.

Submitted by flu on November 13, 2015 - 8:30pm.

XBoxBoy wrote:
no_such_reality wrote:
I'd guess they never figure it out. There's so many empty houses ...

This of course begs the question of just how many stuck meters are out there. How much money is the city losing by not flagging this issue?

They should be fine considering they keep trying to raise rates and considering almost half of the water bill is not even water usage charges.

Submitted by XBoxBoy on December 4, 2015 - 9:18am.

A friend give me a great piece of advice on this. He suggested turn on several faucets and go smack the meter with a mallet to see if you can unstick it. And that's what I did. And it worked! So meter is now unstuck and I didn't have to fool with the county and them trying to bill me for estimated usage and I don't have to feel guilty for knowingly not paying my fair share for water.

Submitted by stubbons on April 13, 2017 - 3:35pm.

I just realized that my meter wasn't moving while testing for a leak... so I called the DWP to see if I'm doing something wrong. After confirming that I'm seeing movement, she said let me check your readings and realized we haven't been billed for water for 3 out of the 3.25 years we lived at the house. A supervisor is supposed to call me to get it sorted out but she said it takes months to replace and that they'd be billing me based on estimates based on the first and only full bill we paid. Yikes. I shouldn't have called. We already pay $600 for electricity.

Submitted by spdrun on April 13, 2017 - 3:39pm.

Honesty is the worst policy -- in this case :)

Submitted by XBoxBoy on April 13, 2017 - 3:51pm.

stubbons wrote:
I just realized that my meter wasn't moving while testing for a leak... so I called the DWP to see if I'm doing something wrong. After confirming that I'm seeing movement, she said let me check your readings and realized we haven't been billed for water for 3 out of the 3.25 years we lived at the house. A supervisor is supposed to call me to get it sorted out but she said it takes months to replace and that they'd be billing me based on estimates based on the first and only full bill we paid. Yikes. I shouldn't have called. We already pay $600 for electricity.

No good deed goes unpunished!

Submitted by ocrenter on April 13, 2017 - 9:10pm.

stubbons wrote:
We already pay $600 for electricity.

Sorry to thread jack, but shouldn't you have installed solar like 3 years ago?

Submitted by moneymaker on April 14, 2017 - 7:44pm.

I went out and looked at my meter today,damn it it's working.Meter was covered in dirt and weeds so I doubt the water company has read it in the last 6 months.I still get a bill though.I notice their lame website has a water bill estimator, that must be what they are using ☺ :)