What you need to know if you are worried about receiving an astronomical water bill

HOUSTON – With so many pipes busted during the storm, a lot of families are scared their next water bill will be sky high, but some customers might not have to pay the full amount.

“There was water running from the guest room from the closet from the kitchen and the other bathroom,” said Montrose resident Lisa Gochman who had six pipes burst in her home. “Water everywhere, water just dripping down.”

Gochman is not sure how much water or how long her pipes had been leaking before her ceiling collapsed, but she is concerned about the amount of her monthly water bill.

“Hopefully, it gets solved before I have to pay for it,” she said.

According to the city of Houston’s Director of Public Works, Gochman and others like her should not panic.

“We have already been in conversations with the Mayor and we are going to make sure that nobody pays more than their 12 months average based on their last 12 months of water usage,” said city of Houston Public Works director, Carol Haddock.”

Haddock says they are working to adjust water bills automatically in the system, but not to worry if you get a bill that is higher than usual due to a winter storm pipe burst.

“Don’t’ stress we are going to encourage you to pay the same amount you paid for your last bill in January,” she said.

Houston city council members will vote on this item in two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Public Utility Commission has given direction to all retail water providers which could also help if you live not only in Houston but also in some Municipal Utility Districts

“During this time period, nobody will be terminated for failure to pay. There will be no late charges or any kind of penalty or interest applied to the account during this period,” said Todd Burrer, vice president of Texas MUD for Inframark.

The time period began Feb. 12 and the PUC has not set an end date.

But if you are in a MUD you do need to do some legwork.

First, document the start and end time of your leak. Next, you need to take pictures and keep your repair invoices. After that, contact the number at the bottom of your water bill and ask how you can get the information to them.

Burrer asks people to be patient when making calls to their MUDs because of the number of people that are affected by inflated water bills.

Meanwhile, The city of Pasadena is also working to come up with steps to help residents.

A statement from the city is below:

Mayor Jeff Wagner is working with our legal team to come up with several steps to help our citizens. He will place the following two items on the Council Agenda for the upcoming March 2 Council Meeting. We are hopeful all council members will vote in favor of the following items:

- An official Declaration of Waiver that will be effective for City of Pasadena Water, Sewer, and/or Garbage Utility Billing statements that were due from 2/15/2021 to 2/22/2021. The 10% late payment penalty will be waived for two (2) weeks from the customer’s due date during that time.

- If a customer were to receive an unusually large bill as a result of Winter Storm Uri pipe damage in their home, we understand that usage is unprecedented and out of their control. We will take that into consideration. They should contact the Pasadena Water Billing Department for a leak adjustment request form at wbcs@pasadenatx.gov