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About Those 'Spikes" in Arlington County Water Bills

The front-page story, by Scott McCaffreey, in this week's Arlington Sun Gazette asks "Is Arlington County drowning in water-bill woes?" The story's sub-title notes that county officials and homeowners are "at odds over summer/fall spikes in usage."

He begins the story, writing:

"Water, water, everywhere. And it’s causing quite a stink.

"Not literally, but certainly figuratively: Accusations and conspiracy theories are flying as some local homeowners saw their summer/fall water bills spike significantly, and are complaining that county-government officials aren’t taking the situation seriously.

“I am underwhelmed at the staff response,” said Sharon Dorsey, president of the Waycroft-Woodlawn Civic Association.

"While she did not see a big spike in her own recent water bill, Dorsey said many have.

“It’s all over my neighborhood,” she said. “People . . . are getting $2,000 bills. That’s nuts.”

"Waycroft-Woodlawn is not alone. Residents of communities across North Arlington have used the Nextdoor social-media platform to complain about high bills and question why they are occurring.

"Country Club Hills, Yorktown, High View Park, Old Dominion and Rock Spring are among the neighborhoods where voices of discontent are being raised.

“Hundreds of homeowners have complained about extraordinarily high water bills,” said Mike Cantwell, president of the Yorktown Civic Association. “Water usage numbers on some bills are five times higher than previous years. It just doesn’t make sense.”

"Among those hit with a whopping bill was Rachel Cohen of the Rock Spring neighborhood. Writing on Nextdoor Yorktown, she said her home’s quarterly water bill rose from $360 in the summer of 2015 to $2,200 in 2016.

“All water systems have been checked – internal and external – with no signs of leakage,” Cohen wrote. “Water usage in the current cycle has reverted to historical (and lower) norms.”

Unfortunately, county officials seem nonplussed. According to McCaffrey:

"To some civic leaders, the county government should be looking at its own operations – from aging infrastructure to computer-software issues – rather than putting all the onus on homeowners.

“The county government refuses to look at other possible causes for the high water bills,” Cantwell said. “Their immediate response is to blame the homeowner.”

"County officials counter that while the issue is raising a lot of heat among neighborhoods, there actually were fewer requests from the public for investigations of high water bills than a year before."

McCaffrey also reported, "The Arlington County Civic Federation, while not having addressed water bills directly, is monitoring the situation, said organization president Stefanie Pryor."

Arlington County taxpayers should check their home's water bills, especially comparing the bill to the same in prior years. If you have a question, contact the county at (703) 228-3000. If you have a comment for the County Board,  write the Board. Just click-on the link below:

  • Call the County Board office at (703) 228-3130.

And tell them ACTA sent you.

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