CHICAGO — Residents voiced their frustrations at City Hall on Tuesday over unjustified water bills, some worth tens of thousands of dollars.
Frustrated residents told the Finance Committee they were mailed bills for water they did not use.
“The usual consumption of the water for this apartment is around 150 gallons a day. Now it went up from 150 gallons to 45,000 gallons per day. So obviously there’s something wrong,” said Victor Catarino.
To make matters worse, residents say it’s next to impossible to fix the bills.
“There’s no way I used 107,000 gallons of water in two months,” Lisa Beard, another frustrated resident, said.
Last fall, WGN Investigates reported a 200% jump in the number of people who owe the city at least $20,000 in past-due water bills. Now some alderpeople are growing impatient.
“I don’t understand why people got to call y’all to say ‘Come change the meter,’ when y’all know they defective,” Ward 20 Alderman Jeanette Taylor said.
Officials from the Department of Water Management were on hand, but they offered little explanation for billing issues.
“Meters measure all the water that flows through them, meaning that leaks upstream of a meter are not measured,” Dr. Andrea Cheng, Commissioner Department of Water Management, said.
Alderman Gilbert Villegas is working to fix the billing. He says old technology and a “pay now” attitude are contributing to the problem.
“Listen government isn’t perfect and I understand that and I think it’s incumbent upon us that once we do discover that there are issues, that we fix it,” Villegas said.
The Department of Water Management has investigators, should residents find an issue with their bills, but often people notice the problem after it’s too late.