SPEAKING OUT: Utilities’ billing doesn’t encourage conservation

Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 03:33 PM.

Recently I made the move from Georgia to Florida to live on the Gulf shores of 30A.  I had purchased property at Cypress Dunes last August and have yet to build.  For the meantime, I’ve been renting a condo across the street in a lovely neighborhood called Topsail Village

After a couple of water bills, I noticed a substantial increase that I haven’t been accustomed to.  As someone who develops and licenses utility billing software to cities, the spike in my water bill caused me to do some quick research.  Was it a leak, or a mis-read, or just an admin fee that got added for the new account? 

Either way I needed to find out before time moved on.  I made it a point to request that my girlfriend who lives with me, take shorter showers if possible (you know those long, steamy relaxing type). She let me know that sometimes the longer showers are used to shave her legs and not just for the sake of doing it. 

With that in mind, I looked elsewhere for the culprit. Maybe it was the extra loads of clothes where we separated the colors to avoid a new shirt color.  To rule a leak out, I started checking my outdoor meter for unusual changes. After two days of normal water usage, I concluded the meter wasn’t faulty and nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. 

OK, so now we have a billing issue I suspected.

With my background in utility billing, the answer became crystal clear quickly. A quick visit to my water supplier’s website answered my mystery instantly as I viewed the rates posted. 

I was stunned to learn the minimum I would be charged for is 6,000 gallons of water and 10,000 gallons of wastewater no matter how little I used. Could this be true? I had never seen such a high minimum before in all my research. My next step was a verification from Regional Utilities who services the local area.



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