Utility billing update from the City of Bonney Lake

The City of Bonney Lake has been conducting an ongoing internal audit of our utility billing and meter reading processes. At this point we have found no discrepancies. Consumption patterns are consistent with the same summer spikes in usage that we have seen year after year.

The billing breakdown is as follows:

Amount of bill
(summer billing cycle)
Percentage of Customers
< $100 39%
$101 – $200 34%
$201 – $300 17%
$301 – $400   5%
$401 – $500   2%
$501 – $1000   2%
> $1001 Less than 1%

At this point, we are continuing to follow the meter reading and billing process through to ensure the meters are being read correctly as well as that the information from the meter reading equipment uploads properly into the billing software. Again, we are seeing no inconsistencies.

However, during this billing cycle we are seeing consumption drop as we would expect as we enter a cooler billing cycle.  Again, it is the same consumption pattern we see year after year.

We are getting a lot of questions about ‘why did my bill double’. You are only billed for your consumption every other month, which means you are being billed for 2 months of consumption.  Following inquiries, we created this reference guide on how to read your bill.

How to Read My Utility Bill

If you are interested in tracking your consumption, please see this link on how to read your meter.

Water Meter Brochure

If you still have questions after reviewing this information please call Utilities at 253-447-4317.

City Administrator Don Morrison

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6 Responses to Utility billing update from the City of Bonney Lake

  1. Beth says:

    Has the city researched info about the meters they’ve installed potentially “spinning” or not working properly? This is a common problem if you just do a quick google search – you will see this issue appearing around the country in municipalities that have installed these types of meters (not sure about differences between brands). It would be helpful if you could explain the processes through which you are checking for inconsistencies. I would think you would need to intentionally run a very specific amount of water through a meter over a specific period of time and then compare the water you know went through the meter to the actual amount shown on the meter. Is that what you are doing? Please clarify. I am not one of the customers who was affected by the outrageous consumption numbers this last cycle but even I am getting a little tired of hearing the city say over and over that people just used more water because it was summer time. I was at the city hall meeting when customer after customer said that they did not use sprinklers, or get a pool, or wash their car, and that they had already verified there was no leak. At this point it seems as though the city is calling all of the affected residents a bunch of liars.

    • Cindy Gilsing says:

      Thank you for your comment Beth. I completely agree with you. We have tried to provide information in the form of links to articles and videos discussing the problems other cities around the country have had with the radio controlled meters. It seems that the city officials want to dismiss any possibilities to explain the irregular charges other than leaks and consumer generated outrageously large consumption amounts. They keep saying that the meters are accurate. My last bill jumped from an average of about $71 to $322. I used less water than I used the previous year. The city came out and checked for a leak. I did not have a leak. The reading was not correct. My bill was lower than many other residents who shared bills that were many hundreds of dollars over what they had been in the past. Here are two links to very interesting videos and articles discussing the problems with the radio controlled meters. There are many other stories that you can see by doing a simple Google search. The problem with these meters has been going on for about 10 years all over the country. Check out the link from the Chicago Tribune.

      Here is the link for a video and article about water problems in Atlanta, Ga

  2. Craig says:

    Why not just tell people that you raised the rates? Although this would not account for bills being double what they were last year, it would help explain why they are higher this year. And while you’re at it, also explain that you intend to raise them again. So we should expect even higher bills in the future. I understand that Bonney Lake is growing, but people living outside the city limits should not have to subsidize city growth. That’s what developer impact fees are for.

  3. Russ says:

    It’s not the rates, it’s the consumption that seems way out of whack. I read in the Courier-Herald that the city administrator was quoted as saying that consumption was 4-5 *times* what it was in previous years, but that was due to drier weather? Anyone reading that would have to think something is wrong with that. Either the quote was wrong, or the conclusion was ridiculous. You don’t end up using 4-5 times the water over a 2 month period because the weather is drier – just let that sink in for a moment… for example normally when you’re bopping along in the summer using 100 gallons of water a day, you’d suddenly use 500 gallons a day this year. Or, you were watering your lawn for 30 minutes last year… and now you’re watering for 2 and a half hours?? Because it’s dry? Sorry, that is nonsensical. I’m complaining because somehow I used over 50% more water than I’ve used in any other month in the past 5 years. That is way off for me. 4-5 times would be completely nuts! It must be a misquote because otherwise that’s just stupid crazy, and no one could come to the conclusion that it was due to the weather.

    • Craig says:

      I agree with you. Rates are only a part of the problem. My bill and was twice what it was for a comparable time last year and my consumption graph shows almost twice as much water used also. I do know that I used more water this year, but don’t think it was twice as much. Last year when my lawn started going brown in the early summer, I went from 2 to 3 times a week watering. I kept the same settings this year. My landscaper moved some plants and planted some new ones, so I used the hose or watering can to water them this summer. I have a fairly large yard (property is .66 acre). Water bill is normally about $60.00 every 2 months. This summer it was over $800 and my next bill due Nov. 15 will be over $500 because I shut off the sprinklers in early September. Still had dead spots on my yard. Last years summer bills were $400. We built new in 2014, so all my lawn and shrubbery were new in 2015 so we watered a lot. My water bill that summer was over $2,000.00. City came out. No leaks. It’s a shame we spent money on a sprinkler system and can’t afford to use it. Water shouldn’t be that expensive in the Northwest where we get a lot of rain. But city also has a tiered rate system. City residents pay 1 rate, outside city pay higher rate. Then from June to October, I believe, summer rates kick in, which is another increase. A consulting firm hired by the city recommended up to 50% increase phased in over the next few years. Rates will go up. Hopefully not that much.

  4. msgt26 says:

    Hi Don Morrison, I was reviewing your press release. How do you define customers in this data? You said in one of our correspondences that “Our financial system categorizes revenues by in-city, out of city customer, and irrigation customers, but it doesn’t capture revenue data by sector (residential, commercial, industrial, etc.)”. This high level data for all customers may be masking the high water bill issue. What is the timeframe this data was taken? Is the 90 day download of usage data for radio frequency (RF) water meters being shown to the individual customers with RF meters who have high water bills, so they can validate it? I appreciate the city taking the initiative to send 30 random water meters (manual, touch, and RF) to an independent testing lab in Everett. Are 30 meters considered statistically significant to form a conclusion according to the city engineers given that there are around 13,000 customers? At the workshop last night I believe I heard that the city started to install RF water meters about 7 years ago and about 43% of customers have them. Could some of the older RF meters be similar to those water meters that gave other cities in the US problems with inaccurate billing when integrated with the water system?
    Hope these questions and others are being asked and researched by the city.

    Thanks! Mary Sullivan

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