AUSTIN (KXAN) - The couple who was wrangling with Austin Water Utilities over a bill that was some 10 times higher than usual has received some measure of relief.
Last week, KXAN News reported the story of Chris and Richard Rubis, who are retired and living on their Social Security checks. They called the KXAN Tipline after their August water bill jumped from $90 to $937 and they had trouble getting satisfaction from the city-owned utility.
After repeated KXAN inquiries, Austin Water readjusted that bill this week with a credit for $675.
"Without a doubt, the KXAN investigative Team is incredibly responsible for this happening," Chris Rubis said. "We're very grateful."
Another high water bill
Across town, Stuart Werbner has an even higher mountain to climb.
The laid-off software developer got a September bill for $2,302. Austin Water claims he used 198,000 gallons of water.
That translates to 6,000 gallons a day at a daily cost of $70.
"I was pretty shaken by that," Werbner said. "Obviously it must be a mistake. I hope the city will admit it."
He hired a commercial plumber who could find no leaks on his property. He uses rain barrels to water his plants and has no irrigation system.
His bill is due Oct. 22.
"I don't know what's going to happen after that. I have this huge bill looming over my head," Werbner said.
Austin Water Utility maintains that any water passing through a billing meter is on homeowner's property and is the owner's responsibility.
Spokesman Jason Hill says check for leaks. "It doesn't have to be a big one. In three or four weeks, 40 gallons a day can make a big difference," he said.
Hill said those who experience an abnormal spike in their bills, should call AWU at 3-1-1.
Werbner hopes to see a serviceman soon and get a billing readjustment.
"I also want them to apologize. This has been pretty stressful for me," he said.
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