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FUD responds to rate complaints


Wayne Watson, First Utility District spokesman, is troubled by a Farragut resident’s complaints about FUD’s rate increase.

Maureen Schenk complained about high water rates at a Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Thursday, Oct. 9.

“I’m kind of disturbed about her comments that we didn’t respond when she also says we came out twice and checked her system for a leak,” Watson said.

“That is the response we’re supposed to make,” he added.

FUD found no leaks and changed her water meter Oct. 13.

In addition to Schenk’s complaints that FUD employees were unhelpful, she told FBMA that her water meter was antiquated and uncalibrated and her water pressure was too high.


According to Watson, meters can’t be calibrated. If they break, they must be replaced.

“Residential water meters are never calibrated. We feel like that meter is accurate ... we think we are measuring [water use], and it is in line with water usage the last couple of years,” Watson said.

“We are in the process of changing out all customers’ meters right now. We started early this year and we have changed more than 6,000 at this point.

“We have roughly 30,000 customers,” he added.

The new meters are read electronically and will allow FUD to see more information about water usage. However, Watson said customers should not expect lower water usage after receiving new meters.

“Generally, older meters slow down. We don’t think anyone’s bill will be reduced because they got new meters. If anything, the billing will go up,” Watson said.

First Utility customers also can expect higher bills because of the utility’s rate increase, which went into effect in August.

According to Watson, the average customer uses about 8,000 gallons per month. Their rate increase is a little more than 13 percent.

The rate increases as water usage increases.

“Most people normally think their rates get cheaper the more water they use,” Watson said.

Watson also is concerned about summer irrigation.

“Irrigation is so costly for us,” he said, adding FUD must have capacity for customers’ highest water usage times.

Schenk claimed she did not irrigate, and her June bill was for 51,000 gallons.

“The bill the month before was 9,000 gallons ... her history suggests that she waters her lawn in the summer,” Watson said.

Watson agreed Schenk’s water pressure was high, but that it could not be controlled by FUD. Her high pressure was the result of nothing but geography.

“Water pressure is just a function of gravity. We’ve got water storage tanks at the tops of the ridges, and the people at high elevations have very low pressure.

“The people at lower elevations have got high pressure there,” Watson said.

High pressure, Watson said, would not change the amount of water going through the meter.

“It would not affect your billing, but it can cause more leaks,” he said.

He recommended customers with high pressure problems install pressure reduction valves.

 

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