Call volume over water bills hits 1,200 a day

Board of Water Supply extends phone hours

Published  7:25 PM HST Jul 22, 2013
Water meter
HONOLULU -

Former state auditor Marion Higa was shocked when she received a $750 water and sewer bill last month.

"I paid them anyway and then I sent them an email saying I am paying this under protest," Higa said.

Higa's  bill showed she  went from using one gallon a day-- to 83 gallons -- overnight.

She believes even if she was being initially undercharged, the city should not have billed her at the highest rate.

"They are applying it as I had consumed it in one month, and that’s not the case," said Higa.

The Manoa resident is one of thousands of bewildered customers who have emailed and called the Board of Water Supply because they don’t understand what's going on with their bills.

The city’s chief engineer said most of the calls are either about estimated versus actual use on their bills, or why their bills were being recalculated.

"I think between the two, it is adding to the increased volume right now, and that’s why we looked at extended hours and that’s why we also are looking at adding staff to handle these calls," said Lau.

Lau hopes to double the number of people who handle the calls from 15- 30.

On Monday, the members of the board that oversees the utility expressed some concern about the complaints.

"I think we should always be cognizant of what the public needs to know,

and get ahead and provide the information to them," said board member Teresia McMurdo.

The chief engineer is taking the criticism in stride.

"We want to provide the best customer service, but right now we are struggling, " admitted Lau.

 "I don't understand why they didn’t apply it correctly in the first place, because now you are doing work double or triple times over besides having an irate public out there," said an exasperated Higa.

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