CHESAPEAKE, Virginia — Chesapeake neighbors are puzzled at why their summer water bills skyrocketed this year.
Neighbors across Chesapeake brought up the concern last week and now more are coming forward with their bills.
Marian Crockett doesn't understand how she and her 11-year-old daughter could have possibly used 31-thousand gallons of water this month.
"They kind of leaped from my average, which was $100 to $120, and then it jumped up to $300, and then it jumped up to $660,” said Crockett.
Crockett decided to go back to past summers and see how much she was billed.
"For 2017, in the summer months it's $433, and then we get into November, and it goes to $528,” said Crockett. "In 2018, July goes up to $494, and then September goes back to $402,” said Crockett.
Crockett decided this summer she wanted answers for why her bill went up so much. Crockett said she called City of Chesapeake officials who had her test her Viridian Reserve home for a leak.
"The process is that I had to identify if there's a leak and do the toilet test and that determined no leak,” said Crockett.
That’s when Crockett hired a private plumber, who also found no water leak.
"My plumber recommended that I request a meter check, he felt there was something wrong with the meters,” said Crockett.
Crockett said that she was informed by Chesapeake officials that the meter was fine. She said she's not the only one drowning in water bills.
"Tons of people are seeing an increase. I know one lady and her bill was well over $1,500,” said Crockett.
A viewer sent 13NewsNow copies of her bill that showed a charge of over $3,500.
Crockett said at this point, City officials only have one option left for her and that’s to fill out a form for the investigation, that she won't be able to fill out another for a decade.
"It's a leak adjustment with an unidentified water loss form, and you can only do that once every ten years. That doesn't make sense,” said Crockett.
The City of Chesapeake's Public Utilities Director David Jurgens released the following statement about this 13News Now Story:
"There could be several reasons why Chesapeake residents would possibly experience higher bills within the last few weeks, but without knowing the specific account information, we are unable to address specific reasons. Customers can look at their bills and determine what caused the increase.
The following would cause the consumption (volume) to increase:
- Families with children often use more water during the summer because children, and often adults as well, are home more. With higher temperatures, more outdoor activities, and more home time, water use increases. Specifically, this causes increases in all aspects of water consumption in a home, including laundry, dishes, showers, toilet flushing, cooking, etc.
- It is a normal and predictable pattern that families use more water in the summertime. Not only does there tend to be more outdoor use, but there tends also to be more indoor use. In areas that do not use City water for yard irrigation, summertime consumption is generally 10 - 20% higher than average consumption.
- Residences with pools or hot tubs often add water to the pool/hot tub to overcome evaporation during the summer, and use more water to clean the pool filter.
- While people are often out of town for some periods in the summer, many often have more home-based events and/or visitors during the summer as well.
The following would cause the cost to increase even if the consumption remained the same:
HRSD had a 9% rate increase on their portion of their bill effective July 1, 2019. The most recent bill our customers have received is the first bill that would reflect that 9% for the entire billing period. Questions relating to the HRSD portion of the bill and the HRSD rate increase should be referred to HRSD customer service at www.hrsd.com or (757) 460-2491.
(A sample bill is shown above)
On that bill, both the old and new HRSD rates are shown, as is the relative proportion of the HRSD charge to the total charge. This bill is for a family of four that had both periods of vacation as well as out of town guests during the bill period. On this bill, you can see:
- Chesapeake water charge
- Chesapeake sewer charge
- HRSD sewer treatment charge
- That portion charged at the old rate (effective through June 30, 2019)
- That portion charged at the new rate (effective on or after July 1, 2019)
- The date of the meter reading
- Previous meter reading number
- Most recent meter reading number"
All customers who have questions with the meter readings or the City of Chesapeake portion of their bill should contact the Customer Service phone number at (757) 382-6352.
"Thus far, to my knowledge, we’ve identified only one misread since we started tracking social media entries this month. I mentioned that one in the interview last week, where we transposed two numbers in the meter reading," David Jurgens said.