CREATED Jul. 23, 2013
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- It's a story Contact 13 has been following for two years. Water customers across the valley, slapped with big and unexpected charges. Many are angry and feel their complaints aren't being heard.
"We walked all along the property. At least you would see it coming out of somewhere," said Robert Kalili.
This apartment manager is searching for any sign of water that caused his bill to more than double. Robert works at the Art District Apartments on Casino Center, just south of Charleston. And it was back in March when he first noticed the problem, "It was $600."
He said he usually sees charges in the $200 to $300 range. But the charges went from bad to worse. That's because April's bill was more than $1,100. From March 22 to April 22, these apartments used 326,000 gallons of water.
"It's an apartment building. It doesn't go from $300 to $1,100 with no increase in tenants. So I kind of panicked," said Robert.
He said he wasn't sure what was causing his high water use.
"I shut off the water in the building, and the meter is still running," said Robert.
So he picked up the phone, "When I called the Water District they said sorry we can't do anything for you. We just read the meter and that's it. Call a plumber."
The Water District said he must have a leak. These mysterious leaks have been the focus of previous Contact 13 reports.
As in previous cases, Robert hired a plumber who couldn't find any leaks. And his water use was still unusually high, with his May bill topping $600. So Robert decided to email Contact 13, and within hours he saw some action.
"Once I contacted Channel 13, I got a call back the next day from the water company saying we'd like to help you," said Robert.
Our cameras were there as a Water District employee, along with Robert's plumber and the building's maintenance man scoured the entire property looking for a leak. But no one could ever find one.
The Water District employee determined this apartment building was using five gallons of water every minute. That's 300 gallons every hour, almost as much as an average home uses in an entire day. Robert said that's when he started questioning the equipment, "I'm having a tough time believing that the meter actually works properly."
So with the help of his plumber, he eventually took matters into his own hands. Something we wouldn't recommend doing.
"We hit the meter with a rubber mallet, and some how our leak got fixed," said Robert.
The Water District acknowledges hours later, the apartment building's constant water flow stopped. And his June bill was only $143.
"It's back down to normal. I think it's a faulty meter," said Robert.
The Water District removed Robert's meter, since he complained it was faulty. But after testing it, they claim the meter performed with an overall accuracy of 98 to 101-percent.
"If a person has a spike in their bill, clearly we need to have the Water District work with the rate payer to determine what the cause of that was," said Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.
He sits on the Water District's Board of Directors and acknowledges, there's room for improvement in customer service. But he said in general, the meters aren't the problem.
"I've talked to the Water District and Water Authority and they swear they send somebody out, and that the meters are working properly and it's not over billing the commodity," said Sisolak.
Robert still argues, his meter wasn't working properly.
"It's just odd. My water usage goes up, and back down again. No leak, no nothing. Where did all that water go," said Robert.
So here's the Contact 13 bottom line: This issue might not be over. The Water District said they're still seeing periods of "large consumption" and that there "might be an ongoing water issue" on Robert's property.
If you're told you've got a leak and can't find it, just like Robert, you need to hire a plumber. But if a professional still can't find anything, Commissioner Sisolak said call the Water District and they will send someone to check out your property.
If that doesn't work and you feel like your voice isn't being heard, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll see what we can do to help.