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Stories of Unfair Sewer Fees

We enourage you to tell us your experience with the City of Phoenix sewer fees. Just send your story to us and give us permission to publish it here. Click the link Contact Us

Here are six stories we have recently received:

 

1. My wife and I are residents of Paradise Valley, Arizona. Our home is connected to the City of Phoenix sewer system. Our water is supplied to us by Epcor.

Attached is a copy of our March, 2017 City of Phoenix Sewer Services bill. Note that it is a total of $198.81. (See attached.) Based on the average residential monthly sewer charges by the City of Phoenix (per November 2016 information from the City of Phoenix see attached), our Phoenix sewer bill for the month of February is more than nine times the average amount charged to City of Phoenix residents for the same sewer service.

This is outrageous and patently unfair. We usually appeal the Phoenix sewer charges every year and normally get some relief, but not much.

This needs to change and we support the Committee’s efforts. 

Thank you.


Marilyn and Bill Jury

 


2. I just found out my home is not hooked up to a sewer but I have been paying a City of Phoenix sewer bill for 5.5 years. I called the City of Phoenix which provides my water and sewer services. I spoke with Heather 602-665-8291 at Phoenix Water. Heather is the supervisor and she only refunded 3 of the 5.5 yrs of bills. Phoenix Water only refunded 3 years because of a city code.

I  was never informed of this code when I started service 5.5 yrs ago and the City of Phoenix told me I am on sewer. My entire claim should have been refunded. How many other customers are being charged for sewer when they really have septic?  

George from Paradise Valley


3. I am a Paradise Valley homeowner who receives both water and sewer service from the City of Phoenix.2. I 

 

The real issue here is that the sewer fees are over 3 times my water usage fee if you consider the Environmental Mandates for sewer which I would think is a percentage of whatever the sewer fee is. 

 

Just go to my March bill and look at a few things:

 

Water Usage Fee                                   $111.24

Environmental Mandates – Water             11.76

Sewer Fee                                               311.17

Environmental Mandates – Sewer            69.00

Miscellaneous fees and taxes                   17.17

                                                Total      $520.31

 

With three of us living here $311.00 per month is about 3 times what I feel is reasonable.

Is this similar to what you are seeing with others in PV on Phoenix water?

Thanks for everything you are doing to bring this up as an unfair situation.

 

Dave

Paradise Valley


4. I’m writing this on behalf of my mother, Sharon Dupont McCord, a single widow living alone in her property in Paradise Valley. I have consistently witnessed outrageous sewer charges levied by the City of Phoenix. But in 2016 (and it is still continuing), I have witnessed what I believe is pure theft. 

During the month of March 2016, her landscapers found a hidden water leak and fixed it.  We brought this to their attention because the February EPCOR water bill showed an increased usage of approximately 57,000 gallons per month, to 101,000 gallons in February, then 136,000 gallons in March.  We contacted EPCOR Water after the April and May usage was complete, and they said all was back to normal registering at 26,000 gallons in April, and 22,000 gallons in May.

Here’s where we have a problem. The City of Phoenix City Services (sewer bill) normally charges my mother $210 per month for her sewer services (which is already too high for a single person when you consider the majority of the water used never reaches the sewer to begin with).  My mother received her City of Phoenix July 2016 sewer bill, which stated she owed $452!  After receiving the same $452 charge for her August bill, I called the City of Phoenix on her behalf.  They stated that they use EPCOR’s water usage numbers for the first three months of each year, and use these numbers as an average to calculate a rate for the period of July 2016 - June 2017.  When I explained that my mother had a water leak during that period and that the problem was solved and I would be happy to provide them with the data backing this up, the City of Phoenix stated that this information would need to be submitted to them no later than June 2016 and that we were passed the deadline.  After going through supervisors and others up the ladder, I gave up as I was putting too much time and effort into this.  As of today, my mother is still paying $452 per month for her sewer bill alone.  When June 2017 is complete, my mother will have paid approximately $3,000 more than her actual usage.

My hope in submitting this story is to bring attention that there are unfair sewer practices knowingly going on within the City of Phoenix City Services.  My mother's situation is not an isolated case.  There are many others out there within the Town of Paradise Valley that use EPCOR water services, and are forced to have separate sewer services with the City of Phoenix City Services.

Sincerely,

 

Kevin Dupont


 

5. PV residents on City of Phoenix sewer must file appeals each year if they seek to challenge excessive charges for sewer fees. For approximately eight years have been filing appeals and have had them accepted, resulting in reduced sewer fees of approximately $50 per month. While this fee is in excess (approximately twice) of similarly situated COP residents, we have accepted this sewer fee assessment. Last year our sewer fee randomly doubled to $106 per month. And, this is with only two adults living in our house because our two children moved out two years ago to go to college.

 

COP rejected our request for reconsideration. This year COP rejected our appeal in its entirety. A COP water representative informed me that they have had a policy change and now will automatically reject appeals if the resident does not have turf and/or "proven" irrigation leaks in the January – March time frame; COP will only accept itemized invoices and invoices for irrigation supplies. They are examining aerial internet views of properties in appeal to confirm the existence of turf (plants do not qualify no matter how dense or how many). I explained that: 1. Our predominant water usage for any month is landscape and pool. We have a 30,000 gallon pool and approximately 3000 plants, so even if we have no leaks in January-March time frame we still water every 5-6 days, which means 24 valves turn on each time we water (meaning that in these cooler months the valves run approx 120 times—the actual math calculation shows that 91% of our usage is landscape). 2. Our landscaper does not specifically itemize ‘leak repair.’ My irrigation system is over 15 years old and so, we have on average of 4-5 leaks a month that are sometimes not detected until there is a flood. Further, I do not run to Sprinkler World every time we have a leak. I keep multiple supplies and buy bags of 100 couplers, and rolls of tubing, etc. and so do not have specific receipts in a given month. The representative suggested that we install a separate submeter on our irrigation line, but could not guarantee that COP would accept our calculations of usage based upon this submeter.

 

This is financially unacceptable. While she said that she would re-look at our appeal, she repeated that COP does not consider landscaping to increase water usage unless it is TURF or there is a verified documented leak. The COP system of assessing sewer charges places a wholly unfair burden on PV residents. 

 

~Cynthia

 

 


 

6. My family has owned a home in Phoenix since 1952. We have since remodeled and invested in our community. We've paid the property taxes, supporting local schools and city costs. We were one of the first to completely tear down and rebuild enhancing the value for all of our neighbors. The neighborhood has since transformed. I am proud of my heritage and residence here in Phoenix. My father recently passed away and I was devastated. I had to do all the business that survivors must do, including getting the accounts changed over into new accounts under a new name. Being a new CITY OF PHOENIX customer, I was given absolutely no information on their policies and procedures for billing. Only the standard water conservation brochure. I am generally very conscious of my water use, and we have a very low water use for lawn and landscaping. I have no pool. This past February 2016 someone opened a hose to get water for their dog (or something). The neighbor noticed the lawn flooded and turned it off for me. When I got the water bill, it was extremely high. Nearly $600! I contacted the city and they said there was nothing I could do except make payment arrangements, which I did shortly thereafter. AT THAT TIME THEY DID NOT INFORM ME THAT MY JULY BILL WOULD BE ASSESSED BASED ON THAT ANOMALY!!! 

 

I left for the the summer months June - Aug. Only to return to skyrocketing bills. I immediately called the city upon discovery of the increased bills only to be told "Sorry, you are outside the 60 day appeal window". I was of course outraged. I had been given no notice, nothing in writing and there is nothing on the back of the bill or in any documentation to indicate that this policy exists. To make matters worse, they tell me I will be billed this erroneous amount which is 500% above my normal bill UNTIL JULY 2017. And they say no human being at the City can make any manual adjustments. I invite you to examine your City of Phoenix SEWAGE bill closely and see if you are also a victim of this unfair billing practice. 

 

It took me several hours to compare my bills from years past to discover that the Sewage Fee and Mandated Sewage impact fee are the reason my bill had become unreasonable. I am a single person living in a single family dwelling. There is no reason that I should be unfairly taxed based on the City of Phoenix's inability to devise a fair and practical billing policy AND/OR make adjustments when their billing system fails. 

 

~Shane