My Take: Fix the water department

My Take: Fix the water department

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - These days, it sure seems a dollar is becoming harder to come by. Prices for staples like groceries and clothes seem to be going up weekly. Power companies are consistently asking for permission to raise rates. Water rates have even gone up recently. We can mostly understand why all of those increases are necessary.

Imagine, however, getting a water bill for three, four, or even five times more the amount the month before.

That's what's happening to numerous City of Columbia water customers. People are seeing bills spike from less than a hundred dollars to more than a thousand. Other than filling up a poll or springing a leak somewhere, any rational person can see that there must be something wrong with the way the bill was calculated or a mechanical problem with the city's meter, right?

Now, imagine taking what seems to be a fair concern to the city about that extraordinary bill and getting the run-around from the city's customer service department.

That's what's happening to many...

"I guess some of the volume of some of the escalating concerns that I've heard about is giving me a little pause and also caused me over the last several months to look into how we can do some things differently," Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson said. "It's become very apparent to me that we need one person who's going to be focused on this everyday"

The WIS Editorial Board applauds city manager Teresa Wilson for taking some first steps to improve that poor customer service by working to hire a new assistant city manager to focus on utilities engineering and customer care. Clearly, there is a management problem here.  For the citizens of Columbia to be dismissed by city officials for lodging complaints is just shameful. There is no other way to describe it. Clearly, there is a management and infrastructure problem here. The department's operation is now under review and Wilson also has plans to do a study to see how much it will cost to replace meters with new digital meters. This is very much needed.

We hope this means the city will do a better job working with those billing questions or concerns. The city must continue to ensure its crumbling infrastructure is being modernized and its customer service is being improved. After all, it's not like people can live without water.

That's my take, what's yours?

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