Concerns continue over high water bills in Columbia - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Concerns continue over high water bills in Columbia

(Source: WISTV) (Source: WISTV)
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Columbia Water customers continue to reach out to WIS over what they say are outrageous fees for water they did not use.

On Thursday, the city responded saying it has a new program in place to solve these issues. The Customer Advocate Program was developed in July of last year after WIS received multiple complaints about unexpected, high water bills that could not be explained.

Columbia resident Ron Porter says he's been living here for 36 years, paying about $40 a month for water.

"Then in September, the bills went from three units of water to almost 36 units of water,” Porter said.

He received a bill for more than $200 - which Ron paid before contacting the city.

After a leak assessment was done, it was determined there was, in fact, a leak that Ron would be responsible for finding. He paid for the plumber out of pocket and was issued yet another high water bill.

"The supervisor told me he would put a hold on my bill– not to pay anything at that point – but, yes, at that point including the plumber it would have been over $600,” Porter said.

It's because of the high volume of concerns from customers like Porter that the Customer Advocate Program was created in July of 2017.

"We want to make sure that our customers know we will investigate any concern about a water bill,” Customer Care Administrator Angela Adams said. "If a customer has a unique situation – something that they can't explain – when the bill starts to change, the advocate will come out. They're trained. They specialize in trying to look for things that may have caused the change."

But some customers like Austin and Tabitha, say they didn't exactly feel like the city was on their side. Not long ago, their normally $30 water bill was more than $600!

"It's just us two. We have one bathroom," Tabitha Golunbek explained.

"The customer is in a better position to answer that question than city staff. We read the meter once per month. So, we're only at your property once per month for billing. Any activity that occurs in between that may affect the bill, again, the customer is in a better position to answer that question," Angela Adams said.

The city has plans to replace all of the aging water meters with new Advanced Metering Infrastructure technology, or AMI, but they stand by all meters currently in use.

"It is the trusted device to measure water that passes through from the city side to the customer side but we have a testing process and it will determine whether the meter is functioning according to standard. So, a broken meter will tell us if it's broken,” Angela Adams said. "The functionality of the meter is it's not going to record anything that doesn't pass through."

In Ron's case, it was determined higher bills were the result of faulty equipment. Austin and Tabitha were offered 50 percent off. They had to pay more than $300 to avoid a shutoff. They say, since then their bills have returned to normal.

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved. 

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

    Survivors recount deadly Missouri duck boat sinking

    Saturday, July 21 2018 12:18 AM EDT2018-07-21 04:18:54 GMT
    Saturday, July 21 2018 6:48 PM EDT2018-07-21 22:48:24 GMT
    (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). People pray outside Ride the Ducks, an amphibious tour operator involved in a boating accident on Table Rock Lake, Friday, July 20, 2018 in Branson, Mo.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel). People pray outside Ride the Ducks, an amphibious tour operator involved in a boating accident on Table Rock Lake, Friday, July 20, 2018 in Branson, Mo.

    More than half of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson lake were members of the same Indiana family, and they likely wouldn't have been on the ill-fated trip but for a ticket mix-up.

    More >>

    More than half of the 17 people killed when a tourist boat sank on a Branson lake were members of the same Indiana family, and they likely wouldn't have been on the ill-fated trip but for a ticket mix-up.

    More >>
  • Security camera catches Savannah waitress fending off apparent groper

    Security camera catches Savannah waitress fending off apparent groper

    Friday, July 20 2018 10:07 AM EDT2018-07-20 14:07:49 GMT

    The footage, captured at VinnieVanGoGo's in City Market, shows the woman throwing Ryan Cherwinski to the ground after he appeared to touch her buttocks. 

    More >>

    The footage, captured at VinnieVanGoGo's in City Market, shows the woman throwing Ryan Cherwinski to the ground after he appeared to touch her buttocks. 

    More >>
  • SC dentist has ladies flocking for teeth cleanings after 'In My Fillings' challenge

    SC dentist has ladies flocking for teeth cleanings after 'In My Fillings' challenge

    Friday, July 20 2018 1:53 PM EDT2018-07-20 17:53:18 GMT
    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)
    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately. (Source: Constantine Dental/Facebook)

    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately.  

    More >>

    A South Carolina dentist has officially won the Drake-inspired  "In My Feelings" challenge and the ladies of the internet are letting it be known that they must go to the dentist immediately.  

    More >>
Powered by Frankly