We filled up four in-ground swimming pools last month.
At least that’s what the city of Frisco said.
There’s only one small problem with that.
We don’t have four pools.
We have zero pools.
Nonetheless, our September water bill showed our family of four used nearly 120,000 gallons of water. It takes roughly 30,000 gallons to fill the average 20’x40’ in-ground pool.
Families all over north Texas have encountered shocking water bills since August, and the North Texas Municipal Water District, the group that sells water to municipalities, says the high bills are due to relaxed water restrictions and an 11.2 percent across the board rate increase.
Cities like Frisco are saying people are getting higher bills because their meters are more accurate, and in the past, the meters under-measured water consumption. In other words, “You were getting water for free before. Our fancy meters caught you, now pay up, suckas.”
During the droughts of 2014 and 2015, residents were limited to watering their lawns just once a week. However, heavy rains during the spring of 2015 refilled water reservoirs and residents were permitted to run sprinkler systems twice a week- if the city sent email permission. Some residents did, some didn’t.
That should mean that water consumption could have doubled for families who seized the second chance to water lawns.
But that’s not what happened.
According to our bills, water consumption tripled and quadrupled. A similar thing happened in Atlanta in 2011 when residents began seeing their water bills skyrocket to thousands of dollars.
There’s no way that happened, in Atlanta or Texas. If it truly did, yards and homes would have been swamped. Hundreds of families have contacted their city water departments to complain. The Texas cities have sent employees to make sure water meters were working correctly, and gee whiz, they said everyone’s meters are fine.
Our meter was checked on Friday, and it’s peachy keen.
They said the same thing in Atlanta, and residents launched a class-action suit over the meters.
Average water use for a family of four is 12,000 gallons per month
According to the EPA, the average family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. That’s 100 gallons per person per day and 12,000 gallons per month (3,000 gallons per person).
If you have a running toilet, you could waste 200 gallons a day. There’s 6,000 gallons in a month.
Run your lawn sprinklers twice a week for 20 minutes on a ¼ acre lot. That’s 8,200 gallons a month.
How to use 120,000 gallons in a month
Since we didn’t fill three pools, the only way my family could have used 120,000 gallons of water in one month is if:
- All three toilets leaked = 18,000
- Sprinklers ran every day = 28,400
- 20 additional people moved into my house = 60,000
- My family used our 12,000 and then had a huge water balloon with the remain 1,600 gallons
We had a plumber check everything on Saturday. He discovered minor leaks with the toilets, which were quickly fixed, but there were no other problems. No indication of broken pipes under the house. No sign of messed up sprinkler heads. No crazy programming on the sprinkler system.
Where does that leave us?
Just like hundreds of other north Texas families, we have to pay the bill because our cities say nothing is wrong with our water meters or their systems.
City Hall is always right.
The bills are higher because of better meters and an 11 percent price increase.
Pay up, suckas.
Just a side note:
CNN reported that when Atlanta did a large scale audit on their meters, they found a “‘…high number of accounts’ were not getting ‘actual meter readings’ because of ‘meter read errors, equipment failures or human errors.'”
Nah, that can’t happen here.