Dallas' high water bills are result of clerical error

DALLAS - Dallas Water Utilities overestimated usage for dozens – perhaps hundreds – of customers last month, resulting in substantially higher than normal water bills.

“Approximately 1,900 meter reads were not posted in time to make the scheduled billing date,” said Sheila Delgado, assistant director of customer operations at DWU. “It was a clerical error.”

It’s uncertain how many of the 1,900 customers had their bills overestimated, but dozens of people in North Oak Cliff are comparing their charges on social media sites like the Nextdoor app.

“My water bill is generally $40 and last month was over $220. Nothing about my usage has changed,” said Camner R.

“My bill increased four times to over $400 and minimal water use and no outdoor watering. Sounds like billing errors,” wrote Victoria E.

“Mine almost doubled this month – at first I thought I’d forgotten to pay and it was two months together but no, it was only one,” wrote Angela E.

Problem is, bills from Dallas Water Utilities do not distinguish whether they are “actual” readings or “estimates” of usage. Customers have to call the water department and ask if a billed rate appears unusual.

“Everyone needs to check their meter,” wrote Brett G. on Nextdoor. “I solved the massive increase in my bill. I got the key to open the meter cover and it read over 300 gallons less than what is reported on my bill.”

Hardware stores sell meter keys and water meters are often located in either alleys or driveways.

“When an account is estimated, the system automatically reviews the consumption during the same period in the prior year, which typically produces an estimate that is similar to actual consumption for the new period. After an account is estimated, it gets adjusted with the actual read for the next period,” said Delgado.

If your bill appears higher than normal, contact Dallas Water Utilities at 214-651-1441.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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