Every home in the District is getting a new meter from DC Water in a massive effort to prevent billing mishaps.
Water bills stay roughly the same all year round, which was the case for Dorothy Reese for 20 years until the fall. In November, her bill increased more than 500 percent to $425 with no increase in usage.
“I became speechless, really,” she said. “I said, ‘How in the world am I going to pay this bill?”
Searching for answers, Reese called DC Water but was left with more questions.
“They began to put me off, and what really got me was when they kept giving me an estimate bill for a whole year,” she said.
Reese’s meter hadn't sent a reading in more than two years, and a replacement meter installed by the utility sent in old data, causing the sudden increase.
Reese isn't the only customer that experienced a meter-related issue. DC Water launched a massive effort to replace all residential meters throughout the District.
“We're going to do more than 85,000 meters,” DC Water spokesman Vince Morris said. “All of our customers are getting brand new meters, the latest technology, and they're replacing meters that are in most cases more than 10 years old.”
Outdated transmission equipment caused billing mishaps, including Reese’s sudden increase.
“What we were noticing is a slight uptick in usage readings that were off, where we would have to make an estimate because we weren't getting accurate readings from our transmission units,” Morris said.
NBC4 Responds worked with DC Water to get Reese a more accurate estimate.
“After I called you, my bill was $11.12,” Reese said.
DC Water expects the meter replacements to continue well into 2018. Meters have been replaced in Ward 1 and currently are being replaced in Ward 4.