NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - With a pool in her backyard, Kenner resident Veeda Payne knows her summer water bills will cost a little more, but not almost double.
In diving into the paperwork, Payne found the last water bill she received was an estimated amount, but the amount didn’t set off any alarms. But, she said looking at her bill this month, there’s no way her household used 57,000 gallons of water
“For us to use 57,000 gallons, that’s impossible, even with a leak you’d see something in the street," Payne said.
And Payne isn’t alone. Thousands of Kenner residents are getting sticker shock from their water bills as well.
Jefferson Parish Water Director, Tom West said the issue lies in that estimated bill, and how it fell during the middle of the summer, which is a time where residents are using a lot of water. He said for the cases he’s reviewed, the estimated water bills were too low for a summertime bill.
“The majority of where we’re seeing these issues cropping up is houses where they have high summer consumption,” West said.
He said now that people are receiving their actual bills, residents are faced with paying that catch-up amount. Normally, West said they do everything they can to avoid sending out estimated bills, but were forced to when they had an abnormally high turnover rate for their hired meter readers.
“We were about half-staff as of about four months ago, so we were utilizing other staff to get those reads in," West said. “We were doing everything we could to get actual reads, estimated reads were a last resort.”
Payne said she and her neighbors believe it must be a computer glitch. But, she fears that ultimately, the water department won’t budge and she’ll be on the hook to pay.
“I can’t afford almost a $400 water bill every month, that’s crazy for retired people,” Payne said.
West said they are just in the beginning of looking into the issue and said right now, they do believe the issue is limited to those living in Kenner.
For residents, the best thing to do is call the customer service line, though West said they’re receiving lots of calls and just asks for patience.