Two Austin Water customers say meters not being read

The investigation continues into Austin Water's high bill complaints.

More and more customers are reaching out to FOX 7 for help.  

Two neighbors frustrated by outrageous water bills, took it upon themselves to figure out what is going on.

Most customers still don't have a resolution in regards to their high bill complaint. They are tired of waiting.
 
Two Southwest Austin neighbors were on a mission to see if their water meters were being read. 
 
On October 8th they put dirt on top of the meters, their latest water bills say they were read on October 19th.
FOX 7 went along with them to check.
 
"Dirt is still on there. Not read. It's not read at all," Southwest Austin resident.
 
They say their suspicion has now been confirmed. 
 
"It's not being read. I feel a bit lied to obviously because that's what is going on," Southwest Austin resident.
 
He's been living in his home for ten years. His bill is normally $150 to $160 per month. In September it skyrocketed to $2400. Then down to $600 in October. 
 
"If it was so high one month but then it shrunk the next month, then why is it correcting if we didn't make any change? So there is something definitely going wrong. I don't know if they didn't check meters for the past two years and they've been estimating and finally checked. Now we're getting the brunt end of that," says Southwest Austin resident.
 
A contractor and an irrigation specialist came out to the home. He says they could only find two minor toilet leaks. 
 
"I don't think it really adds up to what the city is saying," says Southwest Austin resident.
 
His next door neighbor Casey Jones faces a similar issue. He moved in a few months ago and it wasn't the welcoming he had expected. 
 
"When I was looking at renting the property, I asked the owner about his utilities. He showed me the water bill and it was averaging between $30 and $70, depending if he watered or not. We received our first bill and it was $554 and the second bill, it corrected back down to $100 without us changing a single thing," says Casey Jones, Southwest Austin resident.
 
Austin Water has received more than 10,000 high bill complaints since August. They say around 2,100 cases have been resolved and closed so far. Those cases vary: from a leak being found during an irrigation audit, to a customer realizing the usage was correct, or the utility company making an adjustment. 
 
Isai Chalambaga doesn't want his case closed yet. Austin Water completed a 14 day investigation where he was told nothing wrong was found. 
 
"They called me and just said they couldn't do anything. They said the meters are read right, that there are no leaks on their side and we might have a slow leak or it is what it is. So we just have to pay, I just said I can't pay that," says Isai Chalambaga, Northeast Austin resident.
 
His average water bill is $30 to $40. It jumped up to $500 in September. Then down to $30 in October. 
In cases like this, Austin Water recommends customers track their meter over the next two months. 
 
"It's my word against theirs you know, what can I say? I'm just a resident in Austin saying 'hey, my bill is wrong.' Going against the City of Austin saying they are wrong, it's scary," says Chalambaga.
 
He has no pool, and no irrigation system. If the spike happens again, Austin Water says they will initiate another investigation. 
 
"That's the only place I can get water in Austin. If I don't pay them, I've got no water. I can't give my son a bath. It's either pay them or have no water," says Chalambaga. 
 
Austin Water says it normally takes 3-5 days to look at a customer's bill.  Due to the high volume, it is now taking 10 to 15 days.
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