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$23,000 water bill? That's what happened to a SE Houston family and they're not alone

Houston Public Works said it's aware of issues that started when new electronic meters were installed and apologized for the "stress and confusion."

HOUSTON — Some Houston homeowners are getting a sinking feeling when they open their water bill.

Instead of the usual $35 or $40, they're getting hit with bills for thousands of dollars. One customer in southeast Houston was shocked to see they owed $23,000. 

Wayne Hanks, who lives down the street in the Sagemont subdivision, said he’s never had an issue with his water bill until the city installed new electronic readers last month.

"So I went online and looked at my water bill and it was $3,150," Hanks told us.

His neighbors also got high bills.

"Everybody on a particular day, all the sudden was using anywhere from, I don’t know, 60,000 gallons of water to 112,000 gallons of water all in one day," Hanks told us. "We're not going to pay that kind of water bill no nobody is nobody can afford it." 

Thursday night, Houston Public Works said it was aware of an issue on the other side of town along I-10 and Eldridge Parkway. They admitted it was due to the new meters and thought it was an isolated problem. 

In a tweet Friday, the city apologized for the "stress and confusion" and said they are proactively contacting impacted customers. 

"If you haven’t heard from us and think you have been impacted, please reach out to our Customer Account Services Team at 713.341.1400," the tweet said.

The city also sent us the following statement Friday.

"Customer Account Services replaced approximately 500 electronic reading devices over the last few weeks. These installations replaced reading devices on the meters that required manual readings. Customers who received inaccurate readings received notices by mail, email or text informing them of the billing correction and options available if they wanted to contest the bill. Houston Public Works understands the frustration regarding an unexplained increase in their water bill. We encourage customers to reach out to Customer Account Services at 713.371.1400 if they have questions regarding their bill. Our team will work directly with customers on their bill."

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