The city is moving ahead with finding an independent third party to examine complaints about unusually high spikes in Ahwatukee water bills even though it has concluded its own system is not at fault.
“The results of our random sample indicated no systematic meter or billing problem in Ahwatukee; therefore our next course of action is to address the individual concerns we received at the community meeting,” said Water Services Department spokeswoman Stephanie Bracken.
Bracken said her department is scheduling visits to people who complained about their bills at the town hall Oct. 26.
And she said, “We are also moving forward with an independent study by an outside expert as additional due diligence.”
Meanwhile, it may be longer than expected for another town hall on the complaints because the five-man citizens study group that city Councilman Sal DiCiccio put together after the town hall meeting has had trouble coordinating their schedules.
“Our working group is taking more time to put together than we would like, two of the members are out of town for the next two weeks, then it’s the week of Thanksgiving, so their first actual get together is likely to be right after that,” said Sam Stone, chief of staff for DiCiccio.
More than 175 Ahwatukee households have filed complaints with DiCiccio’s office about mysterious spikes in their water bills, Stone said.
That’s far more than the number of people who actually complained at the meeting.
Scores of homeowners and apartment dwellers who pay their own water bills have complained about spikes in their water usage registered for one or two months this summer that then abruptly disappeared. They have claimed they found no leaks, and Water Services said their meters are not to blame.
Amid that impasse, DiCiccio said he believes there’s a problem and has asked homeowners with unusually high, unexplainable spikes in water usage to contact his office so his aides can guide them on how to retrieve records of their water usage for the last two years and provide that data to his office. People can call his office at 602-262-7491.
Stone said that DiCiccio’s office is also in the process of tracking any independent test data for the city’s equipment, including meters, the registers that record data and the devices that remotely transmit that data to Water Services.
Stone said complaints about spikes are “starting to pop up in other parts of the city” and “also a few from the surrounding municipalities, same story.”
Complaints about mysterious spikes have occurred in numerous municipalities across the country over the last seven years. The one common characteristic is that all those municipalities use meters that transmit data electronically and do not require a worker to physically check their readings.