Published March 16, 2017 in the Liberty Hill Independent
A Liberty Hill household’s $8,467 water bill for an apparent consumption of more than a million gallons has been frozen, the City of Liberty Hill’s billing department confirmed.
The mistake, which City Finance Director Amber Lewis attributed to a billing error, comes two months after Jennifer Zandt and several neighbors in the Liberty Place subdivision went public with their abnormally high water bills.
In December, the Independent reported on Zandt’s dispute with the city over the 20,000 gallons recorded on her water meter. She argued there was no way her family of four in a single-bedroom duplex had used that much in one month.
City officials at the time insisted nothing was wrong with the water meters, which are owned and maintained by the public works department.
The Independent found four other households in the complex who reported strange bills.
“We keep calling the city to ask if bills this high are normal for the area,” said Jamie Hugh, whose family received a $200 water bill just two weeks after moving in.
Another resident said their bill had logged them as using zero gallons for six of the past seven months, echoing another family who said they had not been billed in four months.
Lewis, along with Public Works Director Wayne Bonnet, suggested then that some residents might have unknowingly left their automatic sprinklers on.
“If you drive by the development, you can tell the people there are overwatering,” Lewis told the Independent in December.
After the Independent wrote about the irregular bills, housing managers disabled the sprinkler system for the entire complex.
So far no other households besides the Zandts are confirmed to have their payments suspended.
The complex opened in July 2016 at the corner of Myrtle Lane and Loop 332. Each 1,230 square foot duplex unit has several sprinkler heads in the narrow strip of grass in the backyard.
Lewis and Public Works Director Wayne Bonnet emphasized the billing error as exceptional for the city’s water system, which serves approximately 580 customers.