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Lake Charles water customers unhappy with recent water bills

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 7:48 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Lake Charles city officials said they anticipate water bills for the month of May to be no longer estimated but be based off meter readings.

For many, utility bills after the storms have become a headache. Residents in Lake Charles have been voicing their concerns about their city water bills.

“It’s been almost a year and you’re still guessing at a bill. Like, what’s not working?” said life-long Lake Charles resident Theresa Tillman.

The hurricanes also destroyed the city’s water meter reading system and displaced many of those who worked as meter readers.

“The system has an automatic - has a feature that it can estimate your bills,” said Karen Harrell, the city’s Director of Finance.

The city’s computerized estimation system is based on resident’s bills from the year prior.

“From August to me moving back home just this month, April, I don’t know how I still had a bill when no one was here,” said Tillman.

Though, this way of billing does not account for the decrease in water usage for those who’ve not been living in their homes. the city says many customers can expect a credit in their account if they’ve paid for more than they’ve used.

“When the meter reader goes out the home and reads the meter, there’s going to be a big gap, and they’re going to have been billed for their normal usage,” Harrell said. “They’re not going to have incurred that usage, and so, they will end up with a credit on their bill.”

Some residents are weary of paying their high bill and still being credited back.

“How and when will I get this money back, ’cause most of us, like I said, cannot afford to pay five and six-hundred dollar water bills,” said Lake Charles resident Keshie Lubin.

The city says they will continue to not cut off anyone’s water in the city if they are unable to pay at this time.

The water billing office has moved from City Hall to the Transit building on Ryan Street.

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