Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

You’ll get billed even without using water

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Greg Peck
Thursday, May 16, 2013

We recently got a letter from a man I’ll simply call “Bill.” He sent us a letter to the editor with his full name, but no address or phone number. He was complaining about his city of Janesville water utility bill.

He wrote that he recently returned from six weeks in Florida, the first time he had spent any significant time away from his Janesville home. Opening his quarterly water bill, he expected to find the charge much lower because he didn’t use water for about half that time.

“I called the water utility office and was told rates had increased and after several minutes of dialogue, I was informed that even if I had completely shut off the water valve to my home, the water bill would still reflect a $92 charge!”

Bill said he has tried to conserve water to save money and be environmentally conscious but believes the city utility is penalizing him for doing so.

“Something is terribly wrong with the billing practices of our water utilities,” he concluded.

I didn't print the letter because I couldn’t find anyone with that name in the phone book, in an online directory or even in our circulation records. I contacted the city water utility, and it had no record of anyone by that name, either.

But utility staffers did provide insight into Bill’s billing complaint.

Dave Godek explained that assuming the home has a ľ-inch meter, average home value, one stormwater unit and one trash unit, the bill would be:

--Water base charges: $16.50.

--Wastewater base charges: $38.80.

--Public fire protection: $8.52.

--Stormwater: $9.50.

--Sanitation: $14.50.

Total: $87.65.

“Obviously,” Godek wrote, “there is a $4.35 difference between what the resident is reporting to The Gazette and my calculation above, but I did not include any flow charges, which could certainly have been on the bill.”

Go ahead and save water; after all, it is the environmentally friendly thing to do. Just don’t expect to big savings in your water bill.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

Last updated: 9:20 am Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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