For months residents of the Mill Creek Subdivision in Magnolia have called the Magnolia City Water Department complaining of exorbitant water bills. Most told the City Council they were treated rudely, told it was a water leak, telling them to call builder D.R. Horton who then told the caller to call the city. Another excuse was what they called a burst. One resident after another approached the podium and spoke.
Angelia told the council the answers she had from the water department this is what you used so you have to pay it. Her most recent water bill was $300 but she said many of her neighbors are as high as $1300. She said she and her husband and little child were billed for 90,000 gallons of water. She has had the builder check for leaks and checks the sprinkler system which has been turned off leaving her grass near dead.
Mr. Ikema said in January the water district told him he used only 1000 gallons for 3 months and then tried to back charge him for 18,000 gallons. Last month his bill reflected 7,000 gallons and this month crawled up to 30,000 gallons and two months ago was 14,000. He is a licensed plumber and it has no leaks. He believes the meters are faulty and told the council he is thinking about installing a piggyback meter. He to was told by the city to contact D.R. Horton.
Audrey Amirian brought several neighbors’ bills which included a retired couple of two who were billed for over 100,000 gallons of water. The city told them they must have had a leak. Their question was if 100,000 gallons the road would have water flowing down it.
A retired Magnolia teacher who owns a home in Mill Creek with her husband on a fixed income in a small house was hit with a $432 water bill compared to a $162 bill last month.
A new resident moved into Mill Creek on June 4th. He got a bill for April 27 to May 15th was $123. His June bill was $215 for the full month they were in the home, 13,000 gallons. His most current bill was $446 for 31,000 is gallons of water. He is on a fixed income and a disabled Vet. The City Water Department told him it could be a neighbor’s water passing through his meter, a leak, his sprinklers, or a burst.
Another resident of Mill Creek who bought the home as a second home while her husband is in treatment at M. D. Anderson. Her bill was over $500 for almost 40,000 gallons of water and they had only been in the house 15-days for the month.
Jackie San Nicoles moved to Magnolia and was in the home for 15-days when the water bill came for over $150, the next one was $200. She and her husband along with a toddler are the only two in the house. They went out of town for 2 weeks and returned to a $337 water bill. They then discovered a small leak in the main line, when the bill came, the bill which she thought would be higher but it came to only $200.
Bridget Spencer lives in Mill Creek with her husband and four children. Since July of 2021, she has had bills as high as $1700 with the lowest of $142. The strange thing was the $142 bill was for the month she had family from Virginia visiting and eleven people in the house. Initially, the city told her there were errors and credited her on the bills bringing it down to $73. She said the City Water Department told her, “oh your kind think you know everything”. (Bridget is African-American). When the supervisor came to her home he told her, “you’re just going to pay your damn bills”.
After the city council meeting, this reporter went to Bridget’s home. Her meter was over a foot under water in the meter box as were her neighbors. After baling the water out you could see the meter which with no water being used was not turning. However, it was noted the meter was a Kamstrup ASFlow2100 meter. According to the Kamstrup website that ultrasonic meter is read by infrared. The meter is capable of reading cubic feet of water (one cubic foot equals approximately 7.8 gallons) or gallons. One thing the city had been telling customers was that the error could be due to a “Burst”. However, one f the features of the meter is that it is capable of displaying codes. One of the codes it displays is, “BURST” which means: The water ﬂow has exceeded the preprogrammed limit for a minimum of 30 minutes which is a sign of a burst pipe. It also has a code that displays “LEAK” which in the manual states, The water has not been stagnant in the meter during the last few days. This can be a sign of a leaky faucet or toilet cistern.
Some residents wonder it the correct meters are being read as the bill has an account number but no meter number. Some plan to call the Magnolia City Water Department and confirm the meter number matches their account.
One woman said the old joke about “I only bathe on Sunday”, may turn into reality. The other option is the retention pond at the entrance of Mill Creek has a good flow on its fountain as a replacement for their home shower.
The city leaders say they will look into the issue.