City of Houston YEARS behind on updating water meters

See what the city is blaming it on

HOUSTON – Are you upset about your high-priced water bill?

You’re not the only one. We’ve explained this problem in the past with our ‘DRAINED’ series, and we’re revisiting it.

KPRC 2 'DRAINED' Investigation into water bill issues. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

A reason why Houston’s water bills are all jacked up is that the city can’t get meter readings on hundreds of thousands of meters across the city.

Houston Public Works tells KPRC 2 Investigates that it’s working on replacing technology to fix the issue, but they are far behind schedule.

There are about 500,000 water meters in Houston.

Each one of them has a reading sensor. That sensor transmits your meter reading back to the water department.

Here is the problem. The sensors are more than 20 years old, and most don’t work.

The city doesn’t have enough personnel to read the meters with a broken sensor.

(Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

That is why the water department is estimating tens of thousands of meter readings each month.

They’re using past bills to guess how much water you used and base your bill on that.

The city council approved the funds to replace every meter sensor.

The project should have been completed three years ago.

A Houston public works spokesperson tells us, “The 5-year program is currently in its eighth year due to a delay in shipments of the new devices due to the worldwide chip shortage.”

As of October 2023, we found 71,000 of the 500,000 got upgraded with the new sensors. That’s just about 14 percent.

The KPRC 2 Investigates team will not stop our ‘DRAINED’ Investigation until we get better answers for you. Email Investigator Amy Davis and Producer Andrea Slaydon if you need help. You can also look through the many ‘DRAINED’ stories we have done so far to see if you can find the help you need there.

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.