What do you do if you have a high water bill in Savannah?

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 2:49 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A little water goes a long way in Valerie Tenney’s apartment on Wilmington Island.

But earlier this year, a water bill five times higher than what she’s used to paying became a source of concern and then lingering frustration.

”They send me a notice talking about I owe them $384 dollars and I’m like - no I don’t something isn’t right,” she said.

A week later, the bill climbed even higher to $639 dollars.

”I was like there’s just no way,” she said.

Utility billing staff with the City of Savannah she had a leak, but her apartment complex said there were no leaks. After weeks of back and forth, Tenney called WTOC Investigates for help.

”I just wanted an answer and I want the bills to come back down and I want my late ones coming off my credit,” she said.

WTOC Investigates took her concerns to the City of Savannah, which agreed to do a water meter audit to find the source of the problem.

Since the city’s meters require someone to read them in person, it meant Tenney had to do some legwork. The audit required a daily reading of her water meter during a time when she wasn’t using water.

She communicated daily with Laura Walker who is the city of Savannah’s Water Resources and Environmental Manager.

”They read their meter before that two hour- window and they send me that reading through a text message and then after the two-hour window they read their meter again. Nothing should have moved.”

For Tenney, nothing on her meter moved during that time, which meant:

”There wasn’t a leak,” Walker said.

Walker called the apartment manager to find out if there had been any plumbing repairs in Tenney’s apartment that might explain a high water bill.

”I know from past history from doing cases like this it can be something minor, as a running toilet,” Walker said.

As it turns out there was a leaky toilet flapper unbeknownst to Tenney and management that the maintenance staff had repaired months earlier.

”Because work done, the leak was corrected - she’s able to get a credit on her bill,” Walker said.

The water audit in this case resolved the issue for Tenney.

Walker has done about 200 water audits since the city began the service about five years ago.

Leaky toilets often are the indoor source of a high water bill, Walker said, because it can cause the water to constantly run until it’s noticed or repaired.

As for the water meters, the City of Savannah funded a plan earlier this month to replace 80,000 water meters with electronic ones that can be read remotely by city staff.