Water woe follow up: Customers outraged

By Lindsay Cohen email
Posted by Rachel Leigh email

LAKE WORTH, FL (WFLX) - Customers upset and outraged after dealing with unusually high water bills. It's unclear whether they'll get their money back.

In the Lakes of Sherbrooke in suburban Lake Worth, some residents knew something wasn't right.

One of them is Erica Lucarelli. "I thought, in my heart, that there was really something going on, and, I knew, that something would have come out of it whether it took a couple days, a couple weeks, a couple months."

Lucarelli's water bill tripled from one month to the next. She's one of many who complained to State Representative Shelley Vana. "Even if you're only off by a couple of dollars, that's a considerable amount of overpayment."

Here's how Vana explains why you may have overpaid: The county estimates your water usage one month, and then takes actual readings the next. The second compensates for the first where you may have been under billed.

You may be confused.

But here's the rub: The county now uses a tiered system. You can think of it in stacks of quarters. The first 4,000 gallons each costs you one stack of quarters. The next 6,000: two and a half stacks each. The third tier? Six stacks. And so on and so forth.

So, because you've reached the fourth tierm, you're paying much more per gallon than if your water usage was leveled out over the two months combined.

Vana says it means the county owes you money. Many will only be a $1 or $2, but, still, you should be paying what you have used.

Vana says the county is going to work on a formula to determine who has overpaid, and she promises to keep us posted.

The county maintains it has done nothing wrong in calculating customers' bills. We tried repeatedly to speak to the department's director, but he has not returned repeated calls for comment.