Waimanalo family gets big bill despite no water leak

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Thousands of people on Oahu have been shocked by their recent combined water-sewer bill.

A Waimanalo family says their bill went up six-fold and they say it wasn’t because of a leak.

That family called KHON2’s Action Line, along with many others sharing the same concern.

Kahea Kauhi, her husband Kaui, their three kids, and aunty live across of Waimanalo Beach Park.

Their combined water-sewer bill usually runs them about $150 a month.

But two weeks ago, they got a bill for $958.

“I said somebody’s punking me!” Kahea said.

Turns out, it wasn’t a joke.

“Can’t pay it.  It’s $900.  Who’s going to come up with $900?  More than our mortgage,” Kaui said.

Kahea says she spoke with someone at the Board of Water Supply, who suggested maybe they had a leak.

So they had their plumber friends come over and check things out, and they couldn’t find a leak.

“So I called and talked to another person and he said they read it over again and it looked like from June to March we weren’t being charged correctly. So it estimated it wrong,” Kahea said.

And now they have to play catch up, and pay up.

“I think it’s really unfair,” Kahea said.

“It’s ridiculous,” Kaui said.

And they’re not alone.

The Board of Water Supply has 166,000 accounts across Oahu, and 15 percent of them have been getting estimated bills.

“Due to deferred maintenance, we were unable to get good meter readings and that led to some estimated bills,” Board of Water Supply Spokeswoman Tracy Burgo said.

Some bills were overestimated, so those customers are getting a credit.

But not the Kauhi family.

“They’re trying to tell us you weren’t charged right, so you have to pay correctly now, which is their fault,” Kahea said.

The Board of Water Supply says there are two other issues that have compounded the problem and have led to their Customer Service getting flooded with calls.

“The other one was the move from bi-monthly to monthly billing, which shortened the period required for the review of the bills. And the last one is we didn’t have enough staff to do manual review of the bills. That’s required of else the bill automatically gets estimated,” Burgo said.

The Kauhis haven’t paid their latest bill yet, but were told they can enroll in a payment plan spread over 12 months.

“Which would help, but I’m mad about it. I need water so what do I do?” Kahea said.  “Just bottom line, I think they should be accountable for it, and they should pay for it.”

The Board of Water Supply calls this a “temporary situation.” Burgo says they’ve taken the corrective steps to try to ensure this doesn’t happen in the future.

Related story: Kailua family slapped with $8K water bill after surprise leak in home

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