Waipio customer questions accuracy of estimated water bills

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Jun 12 2013 07:30:25 PM HST

A Waipio man spouts off about bad water bills, and how he beat them.

HONOLULU -

When Karl Dicks' water and sewer bill went crazy high, he went crazy mad.

"Something is wrong somewhere," Dicks said.

Two families live in the Lumialani Street duplex in Waipio, and split the bill.

But when the bill hit $740 dollars for one month, Dicks thought it was time he took action.

"I thought it was outrageous at $400 and $500 for every two months and it’s just gone up from there,” said Dicks.

So every day for 50 days straight, Karl Dicks read his meter.

By his accounting, daily usage was only 492 gallons when he says the Board of Water Supply's estimated usage was pegged at 2,500.

The tenants say they tried reducing their water use but it didn’t make much of a dent.

The Board of Water Supply called Dicks Monday and told him it looked like there could be a problem and assured it would sent someone out to check on it.

Dick's issue with having a bill with estimated use over actual use wasn't an isolated case.

In fact, the city had been having problems with the devices that allow the meters to be read remotely. 

The Board of Water Supply admitted it was having problems with its automated meter reading program and earlier this year replaced 51 thousand batteries across the island.

Those batteries were failing, which led an unusually high number of "estimated" bills and so they had to be replaced.

"We had to do that to give us a few more years and do the analysis and make the difficult decision of how to move forward in the future," said Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer Ernest Lau.

The city plans to begin a new study how best to overhaul its automated meter reading system and is expected to award the contract at the end of June.

"We feel we are at a crossroads right now we need to decide where we are going to go. In the next 10-15 years and which technology and what the cost will be to the Board of Water Supply and its customers," Lau said.

But until that switchover happens, Karl Dicks offers this advice.

"Find your meter. Read your meter Keep track and figure your daily usage," said Dicks.

Take your water bill, compare it and see if it’s anywhere even close," said Dicks.

 The Waipio man said he believes his water bill two years but said he was told the Board of Water supply policy is to only allow adjustments over a six month period.

 

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