High water bills frustrate residents area-wide; providers point to increased usage

(Kaitlin Schmidt/Community Impact Newspaper)
(Kaitlin Schmidt/Community Impact Newspaper)

(Kaitlin Schmidt/Community Impact Newspaper)

Residents in the Conroe and Montgomery area said they were hit with unusually high water bills recently, but local water providers are citing a spike in water usage for the increase.

Dozens of residents from neighborhoods such as Ridgelake Shores and Bentwater Drive reported higher than usual water bills between July and October, particularly in September.

Emily Guerra, a resident of Ridgelake Shores in Montgomery, said her bill went from $50 to $232 between August and September. Her household used 31,487 gallons of water in September, but her usage the rest of the year never exceeded 5,000 gallons, excluding May, which was less than 10,500 gallons.

Sarah Clark, a resident of Lake Forest Falls near Lake Conroe, said on Nextdoor that her bill is usually $75 but totaled $325 in September. Tori Miller, a resident of Seven Coves, said her September water bill totaled 13,500 gallons—the highest she has had in the seven years living there.

“We were out of town for eight days in the billing period,” she said.

Meanwhile, officials with the San Jacinto River Authority said the issue is likely due to an increase in water consumption during hot, dry months or perhaps a leak.

Reasons for rising rates

SJRA General Manager Jace Houston said increased bills correlate with increased water consumption.

Looking citywide, the city of Conroe averaged 13.17 million gallons produced per day in September, compared to an average of 10.02 million gallons from September 2018 to September 2019, according to Jason Miller, the city’s assistant director of public works.

In the city of Montgomery, September was the month with the most water used—16.7 million gallons—from October 2018 to October 2019, according to a Gulf Utility Services Operations Report.

The SJRA did increase its rates for its users by between 3%-4% on Sept. 1, and it now charges a flat fee of $2.80 per 1,000 gallons, Houston said. However, water providers usually charge higher rates for higher usage.

“They’re trying to encourage people to use less water,” Houston said.

Simon Sequeira, the president of Quadvest, a privately owned water provider, echoed Houston’s statement about the reoccurring outcry.

“We see this every summer. ... People’s waters bills go up, and that’s when they get mad,” he said.

Other explanations

There may be other causes for high water bills for specific subdivisions.

Residents of newly developed Ladera Creek, The Woodlands Hills and North Meadows subdivisions said their bills have been high since they moved in.

Willis City Manager Robert Evans said water usage is high in North Meadows because the developers built automatic sprinklers at each house that run off the same meter that measures household water usage.

Meanwhile, Diana Dailey, a resident of The Woodlands Hills, said she contacted her utilities company regarding her water usage, which was much higher than her previous home, and the company agreed to do a study. Community Impact Newspaper has been unable to verify details of this study as of press time.
By Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.


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