County Manager Reports to Board on High Water Bills

Published on February 28, 2017

A County investigation of complaints from residents of unusually high water bills in recent months has revealed no cluster of high water usage in any neighborhoods and no systemic problem, Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz reported today to the County Board.

"We have thoroughly investigated the complaints," Schwartz said. "Our Department of Environmental Services has mapped the addresses of both the 2016 high water usage letters that were sent and the 2016 requests for high water bill investigations, and found no indication of any hot-spot in a particular neighborhood."

Errors in the County's billing or meter-reading process were found in five percent of the high-water usage complaints investigated for 2016, Schwartz said. In about one-third of the investigations, the high-water usage was found to be the result of customer-side leaks — and the County provided courtesy adjustments of those bills. Sixty percent of the investigations confirmed the original meter read and did not identify any apparent leaks.

"Our conclusion is that it was, in fact, the unusually hot and dry weather in 2016 — with 50 percent less precipitation than 2015 — that caused overall water consumption rates across the County to increase by 11 percent," Schwartz said. "As we have said before, that increase is similar to increases seen in neighboring jurisdictions over the same time period.  I want to thank residents for bringing these issues to our attention."

Any resident who believes a water leak or something else may be contributing to an unusually high water bill should call the County's Department of Environmental Services at 703-228-6570 or visit the County website for more information, Schwartz said.