Here are 5 ways to avoid a high water bill

Ways to make sure you don’t get stuck with a bill you don’t think you owe

HOUSTON – KPRC 2 Investigates is exposing problems with Houston’s water bills and meter reading issues. In our ‘DRAINED’ Investigation, we learned many of you are getting crazy high bills and waiting months trying to resolve them. As people continue to send us questions and concerns we wanted to share five things you need to do to make sure you are not stuck with an insanely high water bill that you don’t owe.

After our series of reports in November, we have received some 200 complaints from you. We are working to get back to each of you. In the meantime, we wanted to make sure you know these things to make your life a little easier.

1. Check in on your auto pay

If your bill is on auto-pay and you don’t want to take it off because you think you’ll forget to pay the bill, set an alarm to view your bill at least a week before your auto payment. This way you will see how much the city will be taking from your bank account and you can cancel the auto-pay if you want to dispute the bill.

KPRC 2 Investigates water bill issues in Houston. Old technology means some meters often read wrong. The City is in the process of replacing the parts to get this issue corrected. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Getting your money back after the fact could take months and in some cases, the water department will only issue a credit.

2. Verify how your bill is being read

Make sure you are looking at your bills periodically to see if the city is estimating your meter readings or if they got an actual read. An estimated read may mean you are being billed too little or too much for the amount of water you are using. That could mean a bigger bill is headed your way.

KPRC 2 Investigates water bill issues in Houston. Old technology means some meters often read wrong. The City is in the process of replacing the parts to get this issue corrected. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

The city code says your bill must say if your reading was estimated and the city cannot estimate more than three bills in a row.

3. What if you are not getting billed for water at all?

Some of you are telling us the city has not billed you for water usage at all in months and all you’re getting is a basic bill for your meter, but no water used. You worry you will be stuck with an outrageously high bill when the city finally does bill you.

You should know that the city can only back-bill you for 24 months. If they failed to bill you for water for longer than that, they cannot charge you for that usage.

4. Know what will happen if/when you protest your bill

If you call the city to contest, protest or appeal your water bill they have to flag your account and put a hold on it while they investigate. You will not be charged late fees and you will not be responsible for the bill until the city completes its investigation.

KPRC 2 Investigates water bill issues in the Houston area. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Call Houston Public Works to tell them there is a problem with your bill.

(832) 394-bill (2455) Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

You can also email them at customer.Service@houstontx.Gov or have a live chat with a city representative: Https://www.Houstonwaterbills.Houstontx.Gov/proddp/default/default

Always call your city council representative if you don’t feel you’re getting a fair shake.

Types of adjustments you can request for your Houston water bill. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

5. Check your meter often

You should also know how to read your own meter. It seems confusing and intimidating but it’s really not that hard. We have step-by-step instructions for how to test the meter. By doing this, you can find potential issues with your water service. For example, you may spot a leak that is causing your water bill to increase.


If you are dealing with a water bill issue, send us a message and we will work to find answers for you.


About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.