Bixby resident confused over rising water bills

Posted at 6:41 PM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-07 19:41:45-05

At Bixby city hall, employees have been swamped by complaints about higher than normal water bills. The city says the higher costs are due to regular rate hikes. But customers aren't satisfied with that explanation. So 2 Works for You went in search of answers.

Susan Morris has watched for months as her Bixby friends and neighbors have complained about high water bills. Social media posts are filled with dozens of complaints from people who claim their bills have doubled or tripled.

But Susan's her bill was fine, until now. Her latest bill was nearly $200. That's almost double what she paid this time last year.

"We didn't wash any cars last month. We didn't fill our pool last month. We didn't run our sprinklers last month,” she says. "How in the world is the highest it's been in a two and half year period?"

It's the same story for Bixby resident Jacque Grandstaff. She says, "I just don't understand why our bill is so ridiculously high when we're not using much. We don't have a pool. We don't have kids at home. It's just the two of us using the water."

Both ladies had their homes checked for water leaks; none were found.

Jared Cottle is Bixby's assistant city manager as well as a city engineer.

He tells 2 Works for You, rates have drastically gone up over the past few years. "They have seen, we estimate probably about 50 percent culmination increase."

Cottle says Bixby purchases its water from the City of Tulsa. Tulsa has raised its rates by seven percent every year since 2011. He says Bixby is also required to build a $20 million sewer treatment plant. So all Bixby water bills now have a $40 sewer fee each month to pay for it.

Cottle credits these increases, along with social media chatter for skyrocketing the number complaints. He says the first week of October 2014 the city received 35 requests for bill adjustments, "With social media in 2015, we had 85 calls for the same one week period and two adjustments. So a lot of what is happening, broad stroke, is social media phenomenon."

Susan Morris says with so many people seeing higher bills, there must be a more serious problem, "Who else is this happening too? And it's happening way too often for this to be coincidental. Something is systemically wrong."

Cottle says the City of Bixby would eventually like to go to a fully automated system. Crews are currently testing a few hundred automated meters at home in rural Bixby.