Friday, January 15, 2010

City: No widespread water problems

Investigations of high water bills have not detected any unexpected trends or systemwide problems, according to a city memo released today.

City officials expect a Cornelius task force of business owners and residents to finish by March their work looking into the string of complaints, many from the Cornelius area the report says.

Here are excerpts from the "Utilities High Bill Concerns Update":

Cornelius Task Force - The group is tackling the complexities of meters, rates and billing and began clarifying some concerns raised by customers in the audience. Most customer concerns raised Monday evening were addressed by the task force, with four new cases identified that require further investigation by Utilities.

Additional Meter Testing – Utilities has begun implementing a meter-testing plan. Since mid-December, accuracy tests have been conducted on 11 in-service meters. The tests were conducted in accordance with industry-accepted practices and the meters were found to perform properly and accurately. The next step will include independent third party verification of the in-house test results.

Electronic Transmitters – It’s relatively infrequent, but malfunctioning electronic transmitters can result in low water use readings for a period, which can eventually lead to a high reading and subsequent bill ‘spike’ after the transmitter is replaced. Any customers affected by failing transmitters – or any other error on the City’s part – receive appropriate adjustments to their accounts.

Customer Investigations - Ongoing media coverage continues to prompt higher than normal bill inquiries and concerns. ...To date, Utilities staff has not detected any unexpected trends or system-wide problems in its investigations.

Last fall, residents of the Peninsula neighborhood in Cornelius complained of unusually high bills - in some cases, more than $500 a month - or abnormal spikes. Media coverage spurred more complaints citywide, and CMUD said it's struggling to investigate all of them.

- Doug Miller