After a spate of complaints from Monroe residents about high water bills, Mayor Jamie Mayo’s administration claims that many customers may have seen their recent water bills increase because of heavier than normal water usage.
The question of why some residents’ water bills tripled or quadrupled surfaced during the Monroe City Council’s regular meeting on Nov. 12. City Council member Michael Echols, who represents District 1, said many of his constituents experienced two problems: high water bills and brown water, too.
“We’re still having several brown water issues,” Echols said.
“There are still major concerns there, with water bills tripling.”
When he spoke of high water bill issues, Echols said he meant issues like bills for 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of water usage.
After the meeting, Echols told The Ouachita Citizen about 40 to 70 people had voiced concerns about brown water and high water bills at a recent community meeting, through emails, telephone calls, and social media communications.
Stacey Rowell, Mayo’s director of administration, said the water bills for residents in September was about 18 percent higher than September 2018. She told The Ouachita Citizen that many people were using more water to keep their lawns green or to refill their backyard pools.
“Almost 4 weeks with no or very little rainfall during September, caused people to water more than usual,” stated Rowell’s email, referring to a cycle made up mostly of District 2. “All cycles experienced double-digit increases in consumption for September, the highest cycle being 28 percent.
“Many people water using an irrigation meter but many do not. Also many pools are on an auto-leveler filling system and these are often on the house meter as well, and not on an irrigation meter. As a reminder, irrigation meters do not carry sewer charges.”
Echols disputed Rowell’s contention that the high water bills simply resulted from heavy water usage.
“It’s definitely a massive issue and something I’m going to push the administration to resolve,” Echols said.
“If she feels that way, I’m still going to keep pushing. I have many constituents who don’t have pools or extraordinary water usage who still had high water bills.”
“We need to do everything in our power to ensure it was not a billing issue or a mechanical issue,” he added.
Echols said some water department personnel had agreed to test water meters, too.
Rowell said a water system with eight lawn watering stations that watered twice a week for 15 minutes, would use 1,920 gallons a day or 15,360 gallons a month.