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Janesville residents question high water bills

By Margo Spann, mspann@wisctv.com
Published On: Jun 12 2013 09:34:08 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 12 2013 09:34:51 PM CDT
JANESVILLE, Wis. -

Several Janesville residents want answers about why their water bills quadrupled.

Two Hoover Street homeowners contacted our WISCTV’s Call For Action hotline after their bills spiked dramatically.

The homeowners say the city is trying to bill them for water they didn't use.

Water rates did go up in Janesville at the beginning of this year but it's the dramatic increase in usage that residents say the city has a hard time explaining.

Phillip Danto is one of the residents who say their quarterly water bill went up for no reason.

Danto said city workers performed a number of tests at his home looking for a reason for the increase. The city even installed a new water meter.

"We called the water department and somebody came over there and they checked our water for leaks, we had to put dye in the water, I've got two bathrooms neither one leaked," says Danto.

After he got his bill he started talking to his other neighbors only to learn they were seeing similar bills.

"We weren't even home. My son was the only one here. We were gone for three weeks,” said Wendy Zuniga. “That should tell me my usage should be down not up."

She also called the water utility after getting her bill. They changed her meter and suggested she take pictures of the new one to check for leaks.

WISCTV took Wendy's bill and the concerns of the others to the head of Janesville's Water Utility, David Botts.

"We did go out and pull the meters and exchanged them and tested the meters we pulled out and found them to be as accurate as they can be,” said Botts.

Botts said the Public Service Commission recommends changing a water meter after 20 years and that's when city workers swap them out.

The meters only register usage that comes to homes so he stands by their accuracy.

"When we pull a meter out we test it for accuracy and our meters range anywhere from 98 to 101 (percent) accurate.”

He says a defective meter would run slower and usage would decrease, meaning a bad meter would make your bill go down not up.

Hoover Street residents want the city to take a look at the whole system.

"If it was my bill, I could understand that but since there's more than five or six of us that's telling us there's an issue," says Zuniga.

Botts said they are willing to talk with residents about their bills and send a technician to check meters. But that may not solve the problem so he recommends having a plumber take a look at pipes to see if there's a leak homeowners may not know about.

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