Advanced meters blamed for water bill issues in South Lubbock neighborhood

Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 5:32 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Residents of the Bell Farms development in South Lubbock are questioning their water bills after experiencing a variety of issues, prompting the City of Lubbock Water Department to boost the signal for its advanced water meters.

“What you had happened with several customers in this area is that they went a month or two months where consumption was not being transmitted over those receivers,” City of Lubbock Utilities spokesperson Matt Rose said. “At that point in time, the decision was made that more receivers need to be ordered and installed in this area to basically beef up that communications network, so those reads are coming through as they should.”

Rose tells KCBD that in growing areas of Lubbock, especially in areas where LP&L does not provide electric service and does not have meters, there aren’t as many receivers to transmit data. He says existing meters weren’t being misread, but were not reporting back to be billed.

“In July, the City Council approved a resolution to purchase more receivers to strengthen the communications network in this area of town,” Rose said. “That purchase order has being cut, those are being received and are scheduled to be installed in the field.”

Don Beckwith and Derek Drube are just a few residents in Bell Farms off 130th Street and University Avenue with concerns about their bills. As new residents, they’ve only had two bills and are experiencing opposite issues.

“We filled our pool on the 26th of June and our reading was taken the 28th,” Drube said. “The reading had us using only 1,200 gallons of water from the 15th, when we moved into our house, to the 28th.”

While he expected a big bill and didn’t get one, the folks next door, who don’t have a pool, were surprised by a large bill just a few weeks after moving into the home.

“It was three weeks and a day and the total amount that they said we used in those three weeks was 31,000 gallons,” Beckwith said. “Now, that kind of blew me away a little bit.”

For both instances, the City of Lubbock should be manually reading the meter, either in the event it’s experiencing communication problems or not reading correctly.

“We would need to go check to make sure and would be happy to do so,” Rose said. “At the end of the day, the goal here is to make sure that folks are getting charged for the consumption that they personally consumed.”

According to Rose, City of Lubbock Utilities customer service representatives should be working with residents impacted by the meter situation to make payments for billing that could be stalled.

“Anything that happens that causes a customer to have to pay more than just a 30-day period is going to cause a lot of folks problems,” Rose said. “We keep stressing our folks to work with them and if there’s somebody that’s called in that’s not been offered that, we’re happy to work with that customer service rep and make sure they know.”

Since some of their issues can’t be pinned on the advance meter issue, Beckwith and Drube both have questions remaining about their bills along with other residents near them. They hope to get some answers.

“I wish that somebody would kind of look into this and figure out why this is happening,” Beckwith said. “It’s just not right. I’m retired. I have a little time to fight this. I think there’s probably people who haven’t paid much attention and some of this may have been going on without their knowledge as well.”

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