I moved into my house a little over three years ago, and the water bill has been something of a painful curiosity since it first showed up. I think the first one was on the order of $200, which prompted a call to the city. It had taken nearly four month of living there before the bill showed up, so they mumbled something about it taking a while for the change of ownership to go through the system.
I gave the poor phone attendant a little bit of shade, but paid my water bill and moved on with life.
The next bill was in the neighborhood of $150, so I got back on the phone. That (slightly more terse) conversation triggered a number of visits from city inspectors and water system managers in which they put blue dye in my toilets (which I was never able to completely get out). They also broke my water meter while trying to test it.
Over the next few billing cycles they broke the water meter again, and I managed to get several refunds from the city since they couldn’t explain why their own people kept breaking my water meter, and my bills seemed to have little to do with reality.
Eventually my case was escalated enough so that someone with little patience came and visited and informed me that the only possible cause of the problem was a leaking pipe in the ground- on my side of the meter.
The water rules here are setup so that the city only needs to get water to your property- to the meter- and the rest is up to you. In my case, they swore the meter was right, so the line must be leaking underneath the 150-foot tall oak tree in the yard.
My water bills have been averaging out at about $110, which is two or three times what it ought to be, so I’ve been saving my money to hire a plumber to come out and put in a new line.
Until last month, when my water bill was $34. I called the city and asked why; they explained that perhaps the meter was read incorrectly, and that it would get updated on the next bill. When that next bill came, it was $31 dollars, so I called again with a different thought on my mind. I know what changed when my bill dropped: my sketchy neighbors moved out.
For reasons probably related to a possible lawsuit, the city is moving very quickly to address my concern.