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Several months ago, Ashlyn Saunders and her husband Ed started taking care of her parents’ Kailua home.
“It is the home that I grew up in and this year has been really rough because we’ve had to put my mom and dad into fosters homes. We had to fix up the house in order to save the house,” Saunders said.
What the family was not aware of was a leak in the home. But their water bill never changed and stayed in the $200 range. That changed in August when Ashlyn received a seven-page bill.
“This was for January was $520, and then February was $1,371, March was $2,600, April was $3,020, May was $2,911, and June was $3,127 and these all came in one envelope,” Saunders said.
They contacted the Board of Water Supply and were told their previous bills were based on an estimate and have since been reconciled. Initially they were told they actually owed $3,000.
“My father-in-law at the time was the only person living here. And he was the only person using the bathroom here, taking a shower. And if the problem was that bad, we believe there would have been swamps underneath the house, you would have damaged flooring here and nothing was evident,” Ed said.
He says if they were told about the spike in usage, they would have found and corrected the problem sooner.
“Now we’re up for the $3,000 when we could have fixed this problem back in January,” Ed said.
The Board of Water Supply says they reached out to the Saunders once again and have come up with an adjustment based on actual meter reads.
“We contacted the Saunders family to find out their side of the situation and then we reviewed the situation. And based on the information that we received, we’re working on an adjustment with them,” Board of Water Supply spokesperson Tracy Burgo said.
The Saunders believe they’re not alone.
“What if there’s another family going through this? Especially if there’s another senior citizen because if this was for my father, he wouldn’t know. He would just pay it,” Ashlyn said.
“We do apologize for the multiple estimated bills,” Burgo said. “We do appreciate the patience of our customers while we get through this situation. It is a temporary situation, but unfortunately it is causing a lot of concern.”
The Board of Water Supply has moved to a new billing system, which they began phasing in at the beginning of the year. Instead of a bi-monthly bill, customers will now receive a monthly bill. This has shortened the period that’s required to review the bills.
Ironically, the Board of Water Supply’s website also says it switched to the new system to help identify “unusual water usage such as property leaks… allowing for prompt repairs and thereby reducing the magnitude of high bills caused by leaks.”
For more information, visit this website.