Durham residents frustrated by spike in water bills

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Water customers in Durham are speaking out again about unexpected high water bills after city officials said they were undercharged for years.

CBS 17 first reported the problem in August when customers in Durham were undercharged for several months or years, and then hit with high adjusted water bills.

In recent weeks, some water customers in Durham have reached back out to CBS 17 about their water bills spiking unexpectedly in the last couple of months.

Chris Casey said his water bill for the month of October is double what it normally is and he said the city told him it was because his meter was not working properly.

“They said the reason was because, for 18 months, the bill was estimated,’” Casey said.

Casey said the city told him they were undercharging him and that’s why his bill is higher now.

He said that this unexpected high water bill makes it difficult on his family around the holidays.

“It’s definitely difficult right around the holiday season when you’re trying to go out and Black Friday shop and try and get stuff for Christmas and everything,” Casey said.

At least three other customers had reached out to CBS 17 and said their recent water bills had been double or even triple the usual amount.

CBS 17 reached out to the city of Durham’s Department of Water Management, but no one would talk on camera on Wednesday.

Vicki Westbrook with the city’s Department of Water Management said that this is all part of the same issue that first came to light during the summer.

According to a past statement from Director of Water Management Don Greeley, the city found that about 3,000 meters incorrectly estimated water usage in Durham, which resulted in high, adjusted water bills.

Westbrook said the department is still waiting on direction from city council to find out how to proceed with the affected accounts.

She said the back-billing process is on hold. So, the affected customers accounts have been flagged and as of right now, they do not have to pay the extra charges

Casey said he just hopes that something is done about this soon.

“You just expect that your government is going to do the right thing, and you trust people that are in power and doing these things that you want them to, and when that’s not the case, you just kind of lose faith that they’re going to do the right thing,” Casey said.

When a similar situation occurred in the City of Raleigh last year, the city waived the charges for the customers.

Durham city officials said the city council will be discussing the matter in the next couple of weeks.

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