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Austin Water Utility gives answers for high water bills

Austin Water Utility is providing answers to customers complaining about skyrocketing water bills, but some aren't happy with their explanation.
Location of customers upset about utility bills jumping.

AUSTIN -- Austin Water Utility is providing answers to the hundreds of customers complaining about skyrocketing water bills, and what they found may not be what customers want to hear.

Austin Water provided KVUE with a map of the more than 1,000 customers who have filed complaints with the city about their water bill, indicated by the red dots.

Officials explained that most people who complained were using more water, especially after the drought-busting rains in the spring. 

The city said it tested its meters and claim 98 percent work properly. They also said water use citywide jumped 62 percent from the May/June billing cycle to the July/August billing cycle. Out of 600 complaints, only one required the utility to make a "legitimate" adjustment.

Homeowner Robert Thomas isn't buying the city's explanation. Thomas showed KVUE everything he's changed in his house to save water. He installed low-flow toilets and showerheads, but his water bill still showed a jump in usage.

"In July of this year they have me at about 19,250 gallons and all of the sudden it jumps up to double that -- 38,500 gallons," he said. "That's impossible."

That's enough to fill his pool twice.

"I find this highly offensive that there are people dealing with this all over the city, and especially in this neighborhood; that they're accusing of being lax with water usage," Thomas said.

Thomas said he hasn't changed anything. He's still watering only once a week and has the dead plants to prove it.

"I think we deserve more than those kinds of answers," he said.

Thomas sent a letter to the Austin City Council and Mayor Steve Adler asking them to investigate the matter further.