Residents dispute water bill increase

Residents dispute water bill increase

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Typically your water bill is relatively cheaper than some of your other bills like electricity or cable.

However, that's not the case for some residents in Lake Charles  who said their water bill has increased more than 130 percent.

Betty Reed, who lives in the Country Pines subdivision, said when she first read her bill, something didn't add up.

"I thought it was a misprint or misnomer," Reed said. "The water went from $45 a month to $103 a month and they're stating it's because they're doing repairs to the system. Which we don't see."

Residents of country pines received a notice in November their water bill would be going up, a $45 flat rate for water service and a $57 monthly rate for sewer service.

Those changes took effect Jan 1.

Community Utilities of Louisiana Inc. is the water company for the subdivision,  they bought out the former company in 2015.

Together with the Louisiana Public Service Commission, they came to the decision to raise the rates last November.

Mike Francis, Public service commissioner for district 4, said the increase had to happen.

"We had a system that was in a bad state of repair," Francis said. "Money had to be spent on repair and maintenance to bring the system up to the code and grade for the Department of Health and for the Environmental department to be able to keep the system going."

"We didn't just wake up one morning and raise the price on them. I hate to see their bills raised like that but we had no choice."

Reed said it's unacceptable.

"We understand it costs money to operate a company," Reed said. "But an increase like that is out of bounds and you can not do that to people."

Reed and several other residents filed a petition and so far have about 275 signatures.

According to a 2015 audit from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor, the median water bill for residential customers was $24.50.

Copyright 2018 KPLC. All rights reserved.