DeKalb issues moratorium on residential water shutoffs

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DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May has issued a moratorium through the end of 2016 on the disconnection of residential water accounts that have been contested through the county’s Utility Customer Operations Center.

May said he is taking steps in an abundance of caution because of the numerous complaints the county has received concerning the accuracy of water bills.

“I have always said that one incorrect water bill is too many, and we have a number of issues that could factor into many errors on bills,” said Interim CEO Lee May.  “We must ensure that the process is accurate, and we have to err on the side of caution until we are confident that it is.”

County officials are urging customers who believe their bill is in error to contact the Utility Customer Operations Center at 774 Jordan Lane in Decatur, or call 404-378-4475 to speak with a customer service representative.  Those who report a billing error will have their account reviewed by an independent third party.  Account holders with disputed balances would be required to pay their average amount due until the case is resolved, with the balance, if any, due at the time the investigation is complete.  There will be no water service disconnections for accounts with balances in dispute and those who have paid their average bill through the end of 2016.

“I have ordered COO Zach Williams to draft a comprehensive action plan to vet the details of the review process,” said May.

DeKalb has a water meter conversion program underway.  Approximately 70,000 water meters have been replaced with new digital units that can be read electronically.  Nearly half of the digital meters have transmitters that relay water usage in real time.  The remaining 120,000 water meters are expected to be replaced by 2021.

DeKalb Commissioners Kathie Gannon, Nancy Jester and Jeff Rader say they will host a community town hall meeting to discuss the water problems on Thursday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m., at the Maloof Auditorium 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur.

Gannon said representatives from Watershed Management will be on hand to answer questions.

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