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City workers' mistakes result in big bills for water customers

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

When old water meters in Nashville were removed in favor of a more high-tech version, it was supposed to be a good thing. But a Channel 4 I-Team investigation found that mistakes and errors by city workers resulted in dozens of customers owing huge bills.

Bonnie Reinhart is among the 69 Metro Water Services customers who, in the last two years, have been stuck with large water bills because of mistakes made by the city.

Reinhart got a bill for nearly $1,700 when an investigation showed the city had incorrectly been billing her neighbor for her water usage.

Reinhart got a letter stating she had to pay up, even though the mistake wasn't her fault.

"We didn't do anything wrong. I don't feel like we owe the money," said Reinhart.

Another family in east Nashville sent the Channel 4 I-Team a similar letter from the city, saying their neighborhood had been paying for their water usage. That family now must pay more than $800.

"There are 69 other families out there going through this too? Something's not right," Reinhart said.

These mixups started after the city began replacing old water meters with new high-tech versions.

"We feel these [69] cases were part of that large meter change-out program where data was inaccurately put into the system," said Metro Water spokeswoman Sonia Harvat. "Clearly we don't want any mistakes to happen at all. But error does occur, especially human error."

"They're stuck paying this huge bill, when it's really the city's screw-up," said chief investigative reporter Jeremy Finley.

"If the person who used the water doesn't pay the bill, all the other Metro water customers have to subsidize that," Harvat said.

Harvat points out even though the mistakes forced the 69 customers to pay nearly $7,400 combined, the people who were paying their bills by mistake got a credit for nearly $10,000.

That's great news for those customers but a shock for people like Reinhart. She's on a fixed income and will be paying off the huge bill over the next three years.

"It was somebody else's errors, not ours," Reinhart said.

If you suspect your bill is too high or too low, call Metro Water Services, and they will investigate.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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