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Palo Alto may revise billing policy for water leaks

Original post made on Jul 11, 2017

Palo Alto may revise a decade-long policy that effectively bans the Utility Department from giving credits to customers whose bills were greatly inflated by water leaks.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 11, 2017, 9:43 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 11, 2017 at 11:04 am

Let's hear PA Utilities defend the fact that they are STILL charging us the $25 drought surcharge for a drought that officially ended in FEBRUARY.

Their policies are not only "deeply punitive" but also blatantly larcenous as they keep siphoning money from our pockets to theirs.

Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 11, 2017 at 12:50 pm

This is a topic that comes at a good time for me. My water bill used to be consistently less than 1/3 of the last one I received. City came to check, since there was no reasonable explanation and suggested that I had a leaky system. My system was checked by a variety of redundant means and I have no leaks whatsoever. In fact when switching the water off singly and in all possible combinations with irrigation and house for a considerable time, the needle on the meter didn't move. Either the city has faulty billing, a faulty system or some mysterious creature inhabits the meter. Are they suggesting that if i'm not at fault I should just pay till I bleed and shut up?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jul 11, 2017 at 1:16 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 11, 2017 at 1:33 pm

@ndn, throw in the recent water rate increase which was specifically instituted BECAUSE the drought surcharge will eventually end and Utilities has to make up the difference!

So said the the Utilities guys last week when they came out to check on why my bill soared, too.

I wanted to see if the leaking fire hydrant across the street caused my bill to soar. The guys said, "probably not" because someone across the street was over-watering. I said it had to be more than that because every time it rains, the "Lake Lowell" puddle gets VERY deep and the storm drain doesn't drain.

I've registered complaints with Utilities and Public Works for 2 years. I opposed the new Storm Drain Tax thinking "Lake Lowell" was due to faulty drains and was told that this summer it's scheduled to be fixed.

In reviewing my bill with them, we found the drought surcharge lives on. Try calling to get your account credited for months of surcharges; you'll be appalled. Try getting a response from the city.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 11, 2017 at 2:12 pm

It's great the City is re-visiting the "no credit" policy. We had an invisible leak outdoors for about 3 weeks a year ago, and our bill was a sky-high $900 that month. It was awful to have to pay that.

Posted by bp, no not that BP
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2017 at 2:47 pm

This subject has brought to mind those folks who are draining the ground water in order to build a basement for their home. A house on my street has been draining water for 40 days now. Are they paying any sort of fee for this? Is there any limit to how long this can take? Many years ago people built wells for watering their gardens but I believe this was banned because it was free water and not " fair" to the neighbors or the City. Why is it acceptable to drain the neighborhood for the benefit for one household?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 11, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I am still amazed that right through the drought the lake at Foothills Park was kept full!

Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 11, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Here we go cut the millionaires a break because they hired some discount firm to come fix their toilet . Don't worry (the peoples Republic of Palo Alto) will pass the cost of the wasted water on to the rest of the customers in the form of increased rates and the city will never loose a dime ....

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm

On the bright side, the enhanced water usage recorded due to a leak episode will get you a correspondingly greater water allotment during the next drought.

Posted by Mr. Keller
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 11, 2017 at 5:47 pm

The city can take the hard stance only if they provide a reasonable way for a resident to check water usage and automatically alert on increased usage.

Today the only way to check usage is to go to the water meter buried in the ground, write down the counter, compare it with the previous reading and do the math. To be sure that a leak has not occurred you would have to do this every couple of hours.

As long as this doesn't change the city should reimburse.

Posted by Growling
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 12, 2017 at 9:25 am

We had a very similar situation to that of ndn, above.

Tore up our front and side yard looking for leaks. Newly remodeled kitchen has no leaks. One bathroom was found to have a small leak in the shower, which was immediately remedied during the remodel.

Yet the Utility Dept insists we use more water than any of our neighbors-- a fact we know to be false.

We water our yard twice a week. Our children are bathed twice a week. We shower at the gym five days a week. The toilet is flushed only if something is "deposited".

Yet we have neighbors who water daily, have three generations living in one house, or have 6-7 students renting their house ( and having water fights with the hose). No way do we use more water than they do.

Something fishy is going on with the Utility Dept!

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