Spike in Newberry Water Bills Stirs Concern in Residents


Complaints from Newberry residents regarding unusually high water bills have poured in over the last few weeks.

The Facebook group “Citizens of Newberry Forum” became the venue for a discussion on the topic with over 40 comments.

Water is managed by the City of Newberry, which dispenses an average of 493,000 gallons of potable water per day and services about 1,675 customers, according to the city website.

Billy Dean, the building operations manager for Florida Farm Bureau, received a bill for 25,000 gallons of water. With a 12,000 gallon pool and an average additional usage of 3 to 4 thousand gallons, the 25,000 gallon bill didn’t make sense.

“I monitor the utility bill every month for a 238,000-square-foot building [Florida Farm Bureau] with 600 people. I know what a water usage is,” Dean said.

Newberry City Manager Mike New said that although the city has noticed an increase in concerns over the last two billing cycles, the amounts that have been billed aren’t out of the ordinary in comparison to previous years.

“We don’t see that our June billing for 2015 was significantly different from 2011-2014,” he said.

The city determined that in the June billing cycle, there were 40 complaints — three of which were actually found to have errors.

New said that often residents may have leaks that they are unaware of — even the slow “drip drip drip” of a sink can quickly add up.

Residents like Dean, however, still feel that there’s a problem.

According to Dean, the city tested his meter by running 100 gallons through it. After finding it was more than “the tolerance they allow,” they replaced it.

He also said he received a 7 percent credit for the error but is less concerned with money, and more with how many people seem to be affected.

Newberry City Commissioner Tim Marden sees the outpour of concerns as a result of citizens congregating on social media over everyday concerns.

“I think its more that people are making a mountain out of a mole hill,” he said.

Dean, however, feels otherwise.

“Something is going on,” Dean said. “Something is not right.”

About Silvia Rueda

Silvia is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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