Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Help Me Howard: 2 Water Meters
You get what you pay for. That is what you hear so often, but what if you are paying a public utility for something and not getting it? Not fair, right? That's what one man said, so he put in a call to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- Allen Simmons: "I found it about 15 years ago."
If you walk into Allen Simmons' house, you will see why they say one man's trash is another man's treasure.
Allen Simmons: "It is a high chair, but it's also a walker."
Allen found this baby chair from the early 1900s at a Davie yard sale and put it back together.
Allen Simmons: "When you put it on the floor, and it becomes a rocking horse."
He found this old Thomas Edison phonograph on the junk pile and restored it. This RCA Victor radio with the original tubes in the back was headed for the garbage, till Allen saved it. Obviously he loves bringing antiques back to life.
Allen Simmons: "It's tedious. I wanna get it done, but it's very relaxing for me."
Restoration? Relaxing. Reading a water bill?
Allen Simmons: "That's not relaxing. That's stress."
Allen was watching his sprinklers run one day when something occurred to him.
Allen Simmons: "Sunrise bills me for my sprinkler system, which is on city water. They charge me for the sewer portion, which I don't understand.
Patrick Fraser: "It doesn't go into the sewer line?"
Allen Simmons: "That's correct."
Allen lives in Davie, but their water and sewage treatment comes from Sunrise.
Patrick Fraser: "You are paying Sunrise for something you're not getting?"
Allen Simmons: "Correct, correct."
Allen's water bills are over $100 a month, with sewage on this bill $61. Allen says that means he is paying Sunrise a few hundred dollars a year for water treatment, for the sprinklers that soak into the ground, so...
Allen Simmons: "I want permission to install an irrigation meter that would distinguish the difference between my household water and my sprinkler system. I don't want to pay for the sewer portion of my sprinkler system."
When Allen asked Sunrise to let him pay to install a separate meter for his sprinklers to lower his water bill, he was told no. He says he knows why.
Allen Simmons: "Oh, that's an easy one. They wanna get more money."
Further aggravating Allen, he says Sunrise charges Davie residents more for water and sewage than Sunrise residents.
Allen Simmons: "I mean, they are charging an additional 25 percent because we are out of the Sunrise district."
Now, you might be thinking, 'Just quit watering the yard.' Allen tried that.
Allen Simmons: "It died about six months ago. I got a letter from the association. I was forced to re-sod the whole yard, and it cost me $1,000."
Meaning he has to water the yard, and has to pay the City of Sunrise to treat the water soaking into his yard, even though they are not treating the water.
Allen Simmons: "I don't mind paying for something if I am getting something out of it, but this is a rip-off."
Well, Howard, can a public utility charge you for a service they don't provide?
Howard Finkelstein: "Yes, they can. Some cities do allow separate irrigation meters, but by law, an utility does not have to provide them unless they want to. Yes, Allen is paying for sewage treatment that he is not using, but the law says, as long as it's not arbitrary or discriminatory, the city can do it."
I first spoke to Davie city officials. I was told they had no control over the Sunrise water and sewage department lines running thru Davie. A Sunrise official told me they would not install a separate meter for Allen because they don't think he would realize a financial benefit from having a separate irrigation meter, and they feared it would be an incentive to use more water for irrigation. They said they do charge Davie residents 25 percent more than Sunrise residents because the Florida legislature allows it to compensate the city for moving water and sewage longer distances.
Howard Finkelstein: "Normally we tell people to complain to their city officials, but in this case, Davie politicians have no control over Sunrise's water department. It's a unique situation that doesn't have any good solutions for Davie residents."
Allen is not happy. He says he may try to get Davie residents to join him to sue Sunrise for blocking them from saving money.
Allen Simmons: "If Sunrise could figure out a way to charge the man upstairs for rainwater and bill him for the sewer portion, they would."
Now, Sunrise won't allow a second meter, but some water departments do, so check with yours. Also, if you have to drain your pool, if you have a big water leak in your house and your bill temporarily skyrockets, call the your water department and see if they will give you a credit. The good ones will anyway.
Sprayed with problems that need treatment? Wanna water it down? Contact us. Our meter never runs. Our rates are free, and usually worth it.
With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.
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