Austin Water set to issue refunds after meter read errors

January 31, 2018 - 11:38 am
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AUSTIN (KJCE) -- Austin Water will issue refunds to some 7,400 customers after an investigation revealed errors in meter readings last fall.

City of Austin officials made the announcement Wednesday morning. In a memo to City Council, a staff investigation found that 135 of the city's 1,080 water meter reading routes exhibited unusual patterns not explained by weather in the late summer of 2017. More than half of the customers on the affected routes had low water consumption in August, followed by much higher consumption in September.

The utility will "smooth" the affected customers' August and September bills for customers who were negatively affected by the unexplained low August meter reading, reducing the impact of Austin Water's tiered rate structure. The utility says the remaining nearly 10,000 customers with higher September than August consumption will not receive a bill adjustment, because smoothing their usage would not affect their charges according to the tiered rate structure.

Officials say that in no case will a customer receive a higher bill as a result of an adjustment.

The utility will inform customers via mail by February 15 of what actions will be taken on their accounts.

The utility is undertaking several process improvements to assure the accuracy of meter readings. Each meter read now will include a photo being taken. Additional validation steps and further reviews of the entire meter-to-bill process are ongoing as well.

Customers with questions on their bills can contact the City of Austin Utility Contact Center at 512-494-9400.

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