Murphy’s  law: everything goes wrong all at once. I had so much on my plate I was walking in circles. The frosting on this puddle from hell happened at the end of September when I received my water bill.  The bill was twice the usual amount. The consumption, according to the graph that goes with the bill, had gone up. So had the cost of water.,

Immediately I called the department, I spoke with someone named Mal, the guy who handles such problems.  i told him I was sure the bill was wrong, I hadn’t used that much water. I thought the meter was faulty.  We had a brief discussion about installing a new meter, but the proof of this puddle was in my court. When it comes to the water bill, the consumer is always wrong.

Thus began the saga of the phantom leak.  I began reading the meter and kept a log. What I saw there  set my mind spinning. The meter was showing a leak of twenty gallons an hour, then- with no change- a leak of 7.5 gallons an hour. Then a leak of ten gallons an hour. Once it stopped dead showing no usage at all at a time when everyone attached to the crazy thing was using water like falling rain had gone out of business.

Then. It went backwards.

This was a couple of days after I spoke with Mal.  Saturday. September  22.   On weekends to report a problem with water you have to calls the police. I did. They reported my concern and a fellow named Warren called and heard me out. “We see that all the time. I’ll get you a new meter Monday.”

Monday, September 24, came.  Monday, September 24, went. No meter.  I ended up speaking with someone named Val. I told him my story. He listened. And ended the conversation with, “The only person who can  order the installation of a new meter is Mal. Mal’s on vacation.”

So. I’m looking at a meter going crazy. Ii was filling swimming pools. I don’t have a swimming pool. I hired two men-one a long time, part-time employee who knew the territory-and we began looking for the phantom leak as I jogged and logged my way back and forth. Back and forth. The meter was still going nuts but I had to have water. I have animals. i have a tenant and a guest. I dug ditches with the men. i jogged.  I logged. I read the god damn meter.

On Monday, October 1, I went to town to speak with Mal in person only to  discover Mal had not returned. I asked to speak with someone -anyone- who could help and met Tessie. Charming lady. Same results, “…we can’t just install a meter for anyone who claims it’s malfunctioning. Anyway only Mal can order the installation.”

I was right back where I started. This time I chose to go above ground. I bought acres of  expensive hose. If there was leak we could see it. The meter was still going cuckoo.  I rationed water. My guest and my tenant were understanding. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t eating. I was jogging and logging. Watching leaky dollar signs falling on my head.

On October  8, I called Mal. He was quite nasty. “You went over my head. You talked to Tessie and Val. Now it’s their problem.”

I blew my cork. “They said you were the only one who could order an installation. You say they are. I’m getting the run around. Who’s the head honcho? i want to speak with him.”

Mal gave me name and number. I called. i spoke with David Craddick’s secretary. Sweet voice. I told her my story. She listened. David was in conference on the mainland but she said she would speak with Mal or Tessie or someone. Tessie  called me back.

I rained the wrath of Aquarius all over her head. “Get me a meter. Now. Or I’ll meet you in court.”

She called back a few moments later and assured me help was on the way.

Early Tuesday morning,, October 9, 15 days after the saga started, a platoon of water department guys, three or four huge truck, several men-one of them Warren- arrived and installed a smart meter. It registered no leak. i never had a leak.

Tuesday afternoon, October 9. David called. We had a pleasant chat. “David,” I said,”I’m 82 years old. A widow. I had to hire men. I’ve spent a bundle. How do we handle this?”

Waiting for an answer. Will let you know.

The point: this could happen to you. Anyone who has a water meter could find herself in the same position and talking to the water department is like talking to Mitt Romney.


One Response

  1. Bettejo, the water company needs to reimburse you all expenses for labor, hoses and your time and suffering. I would propose they reimburse you for all receipts plus $1,000pain and suffering or you will speaking to your attorney!


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