Apopka loses $1 million in lost water, bills to go up

Apopka residents are going to see an increase in their water bills all because of some not-so-smart "smart water meters."

The meters missed counting more than 750 million gallons of water.   It all adds up to more than one million dollars in lost revenue for the city.  Residents have been getting a bit of a discount for awhile, but that’s all over. 

The City of Apopka doesn’t even know when the problem began since they only audit these water meters once every three years.  The water is almost always running at Serenity Salon in Apopka.

“Ten to 25,” Frances Rico said about how many hair washes her salon does a day. “We’re a full salon. We’re fully staffed. So it’s probably more than that.”

The tap is also put to work in the same building at Smile Concepts Orthodontics, but the water bill was never a big expense. 

“I just thought Apopka had lower rates,” Dr. Keisha Alexander said. 

Two businesses combined the bill is $50 a month. But that could all change now that the city of Apopka said residents and commercial buildings have been under-metered.

“They will recognize that their meters are reading accurately now and bills will go up to reflect what they are actually using,” said Kevin Burgess, assistant Public Services Director. 

The city said the problem came from their aging smart water meters, which failed to count 750 million gallons of water that was consumed - adding up to 1.2 million dollars in lost revenue. 

“How did they get away with that for so long?” Alexander asked. 

The smart meters were supposed to improve billing accuracy by replacing people hired to read meters.

The City of Apopka only performs audits on its system every three years.

“We’ve not done a very good job of keeping up with keeping things changed out,” Burgess said. 

Now the city will spend the next two years replacing 22,000 water meters to make it right. 

As for the city’s $1.2 million loss, the city said they will just have to stomach that loss and will not be passing that cost onto the consumer.