Yesterday I wrote about my water bill, and the apparent chaos under the hood of the city utility services. I’m not saying that they aren’t competent people: managing a million people’s water might be a bit complicated, especially when some of the homes in my neighborhood have been here longer than Winston-Salem has been a city. I’m, saying that there may be a little bit of turmoil under the calm exterior.
Today I was introduced to one more cog in the machine: the drain and wastewater department. From what I can gather, my phone call and observation that the city might have been over-billing me substantially for years triggered a full reevaluation of my circumstance. And I mean full.
The crew came out today to verify that my house was in fact a house. I spoke to them right after they showed up, and they mentioned the possibility that my property was commercial, in which case I’d have a “different” water rate. They refused to say if that rate was higher. But they cheerfully acknowledged that it is in fact a normal home, albeit a large one.
They seemed a little confused about why I was so eager to see them, so I recounted my saga of calls, broken meters, high bills, and lost support tickets. They said they couldn’t help me with the bill, but that they were simply asked to “evaluate the non-porous surfaces” of the house for billing purposes: commercial buildings with flat roofs and parking lots mean something different to the wastewater department than houses with gutters and lawns. But though the bill wasn’t their department, they listened eagerly and wrote down my number to escalate it internally.
The implication in all of this is that the city is trying to figure out what my water bill really ought to be.
I’ll take that as a good sign.