Water Woes: More complaints of soaring bills

Water Woes: More complaints of soaring bills

By Daniel Gutierrez. CREATED Nov 29, 2011

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) - Dozens of you have reached out to Contact 13, just weeks after we uncovered some major billing mistakes by the Las Vegas Valley Water District. The complaint is soaring water bills. Contact 13's Tricia Kean is holding the Water District accountable and as a result of our investigation, the agency is taking action.

"It's physically impossible for me to use 45,000 gallons of water," says water customer Harriette Hilb.

"I've been unable to get through to the Water District. I've been trying for a number of weeks," says water customer Vicki Montgomery.

Dozens of frustrated Water District customers are reaching out to Contact 13 about what they call questionable charges. Vicki is one of them.

"I received a bill for $840.20 in September," says Vicki.

But that's not all. In October Vicki saw her bill jump even higher, to more than $900. The bill states she used 210,000 gallons of water.

"As soon as I got the bill I had my landscaper check the sprinklers. I had my pool man come," says Vicki.

And she says neither one found any sign of a leak on her property. So she tried calling the Water District for answers, but couldn't get through to customer service.

"I thought well, I'm going to send these to you, and you were able to get through to them," says Vicki. "And you've gotten some action," says Tricia. "I've gotten a lot of action," says Vicki.

After Contact 13 reached out to the Water District, Vicki says customer service actually called her, and they'll be able to adjust her bill. The Water District says she "...had a substantial leak on her property -- 875 gallons an hour. We were able to produce a detailed profile to demonstrate when the leak occurred and have offered her the opportunity to participate in the leak forgiveness program."

Under the program all customers can receive a one-time-only savings of up to half off a bill involving a leak on their property. The Water District says Vicki will have $714 credited to her account, if she can show paperwork that she had to fix a leak. But Vicki says no one she's hired can find a leak. So she plans to get someone else to inspect her property.

And Vicki isn't alone. Harriette Hilb did a double take when she received her October bill for more than $186. She says that's a considerable jump from her average of about $32.

"I got a hold of a plumbing contractor who came out, checked the house, checked the sprinkler system, found nothing," says Harriette.

She says with no signs of a leak, she wanted answers. So she emailed Contact 13 and we sent her case to the Water District. They tell us Harriette did in fact use 45,000 gallons of water. Something she still doesn't believe.

"They say their meter is correct but there's an error somewhere, and I don't think it's on my side," says Harriette.

But the Water District says "...we were able to provide detailed verification of her water use." And in both instances involving Harriette and Vicki the Water District says "Neither of these cases involved a billing error or faulty equipment." Which is unsettling news for customers like Vicki.

"It's a little bit disheartening and you know when all of these complaints come, you're kind of skeptical to believe what you're being told," says Vicki.

So here's the Contact 13 bottom line. The Water District is promising to address every customer complaint we send them, and we're holding them to that commitment. In fact the Water District tells us they've created a task force to specifically look into each case we send them. And they've also put special procedures in place to help identify billing issues. But if you feel you're not getting the help you need, then let us know. Email us at 13investigates@ktnv.com, and we'll continue to send your complaints to the Water District for you.