What To Do When Your Water Utility Tries To Rob You

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For the last 2 years I have been back on city water after moving from NH to TN and I cannot say how much I miss my well water for the simple reason the local water company Glen Hills Utility District has basically robbed me more than once and I have data to prove it.  Let’s start from the beginning and you weigh in yourself on this corruption that is going on in our cities with these utilities.

March 24th, 2015

This is the time at which I started keeping my bills for comparison because they told me after 4 months of steady usage about the same all of a sudden I used 24,100 gallons of water.  I contacted them and explained that was enough water to fill a pool 24x24x 10′ deep.  They then proceeded to tell me  “you must have a leak or you filled your pool”.  Well, I don’t have a pool and the house being brand new was verified there was no leaks.  I filed a complaint with the consumer affairs people which got them to produce This Report of usage showing over a few days some insane usage then a complete drop off.  Also a leak would be steady usage over time, this was not the case.  Ultimately nobody did anything and against my better judgement I paid the bill and moved on.

April 24th, 2015 – December 28th, 2016:

For months almost over a year the bills were perfectly normal nothing happened that was out of the ordinary at the $35-$40 a month and then….things took a turn.

January 26th, 2016

This started out because I never actually got the bill in the mail for the very first time.  I found that odd, so I called and asked what the bill was and the office lady calmly stated “That will be $287.11 please”.  I was beyond surprised.  I said can I please get a copy of the bill I never received?  Once I got that bill it showed 47,000 gallons!  Like the year before this was completely and utterly insane.  That is 3 tanker trucks full of water.  This kicked off a massive set of emails and exchanges that followed based on This Report that just is off the wall

I was contacted by an engineer that agreed verbally and in text messages that the usage was “Questionable” at best and something was not right.  I invited people into the house to inspect it themselves, which they never took me up on.  They always fell back on leaks, filling non existent pools, and other bogus explanations.  None of which are valid.

February 26th, 2016

As we were in discussions on what to do since the previous bill was due at the time I called along comes the next bill for 12,700 gallons of water used.  Unfortunately I was not able to get the same detailed report for that time frame without paying $75 for it and their plan was to replace the meter.  I was confident the meter itself was the issue so off we go

March 23rd, 2016

After the meter is replaced the old one logs 3400 Gallons and the new one 2600 gallons for a total of 6000 which although still high is indicating the new meter is working correctly.  They produce This Report as well as another Follow up Report that show things are much more normal.  They proceed to say the old meter will go out for testing and then we will discuss the options.  I was actually feeling pretty good that things would all get worked out…..so I thought.

April 18th, 2016

I get This Letter delivered certified mail essentially explaining that the meter testing results showed the meter was in working order so they will not be making any adjustments.  Essentially, even though there is other supporting data there is over-billing that happened they are just going to roll with the meter results on their own.  I’ve had numerous posts on a local Facebook group from others that saw similar billing issues over the January 2016  – March 2016 time frame.  All of which say the profile results show ungodly usage at times that make no sense.

My Official Response to Their Letter

Below is the text of the E-Mail I sent to them.  There is nothing else I can do except the things outlined in my action plan.   I have to spend money to collect data, and hope and pray that news outlets, and consumer organizations will investigate this.  The current data clearly shows something different from simply the meter results.  Why was that data not even considered?  Why do these companies continue to be allowed to hold us hostage?

—-Begin Letter—–

To:  Robert Colvin <BobColvin@rgc-a.com>,”ncmh2o@yahoo.com” <ncmh2o@yahoo.com>,”glenhills@comcast.net” <glenhills@comcast.net>

Subject:  Certified Letter Acknowledgment and Response

Body:

Please be informed your certified letter notifying us that the investigation resulted in no adjustment was received.  Based on all the collected data and profile analysis I still feel this decision hanging solely on the meter test results is despicable and it’s obvious that nobody there understand just how much volume of water over 50,000 gallons is and it’s nearly impossible for a home of two people to consume that.  The fact Robert agreed the profile graph and details was “questionable” adds to my overall disgust and frustration.

Please be advised I will be taking the following further actions.

  1. Installing a secondary meter with downloadable data reporting and comparing results on a monthly basis based on read dates on billing.  I will be reporting any discrepancies to you and other agencies on a monthly basis.  I will also be providing calibration test results on the system installed and it will be installed inside the home prior to the pressure reducer.  All data collected will be maintained for additional actions.
  2. I have already begun contacting various agencies such as consumer affairs and the Tn Attorney General for further investigation and inspection of all customer bills over the Oct 2015 to March 2016 time frame.  Multiple people have spoken out on Facebook about having the same issues of unexplainable usage on the detailed reports.  Any data collected by the secondary meter will be forwarded to these agencies as documented proof.
  3. I will consider contacting a class attorney to investigate customer billing and potentially file actions on behalf of multiple parties with these billing issues.
  4. I have already contacted news/media outlets to also investigate additional customer billing for the period mentioned above to look for patterns of anomalies
  5. I am even considering digging a well and bypassing your water JUST to see if you still ever bill me while it’s 100% bypassed.
You can be 100% certain that I will not be going away.  Every month I will be comparing your bill to my secondary meter and asking for an explanation of the difference no matter if that difference is one gallon.  I will prove that you are over-billing and defrauding the good people of the district once I have the data to prove it.  I will go to every length I can to help all the other people in this area no longer be held captive to the word of the utility.
—–End Letter—–

Communicating With Glen Hills Utility

I will say that the communication with this company is painful at best.  You never can really speak to anyone but the office manager first.  They are not even confident enough to publish the email addresses of the General Manager so you can email him directly.  It is all filtered through that single office manager so you don’t even know if your messages get through.  If you call and ask for anyone it’s always a message with a call back.  Anytime you ask about your usage they are clearly trained to give the same answers without batting an eye

  • You have a leak
  • You filled a pool
  • You washed your cars
  • You watered your lawn
  • You watered your garden
  • Etc

In many cases even mine the usage was over the winter months when I completely shut off all the outside spigots, yet somehow I always “Filled a Pool” in January according to them!  Any half wit with a brain can regurgitate useless answers and enough is enough.  Logic and reason needs to start happening at this place when it comes to communication with their customers.  We are not in fact stupid, and in some cases many are probably much smarter than they are.

Calling All Glen Hills Utility District Customers!

I am going to also collect data from people via an online Google Form about billing issues.  If you are interested in adding your information to the cause please submit your information on This Form or simply fill it out below so we can use it to help the news and other agencies determine how to proceed.  You can submit multiple times if you need to in order to capture additional billing date issues.  If you did actually pay the $75 for the detailed profile please Contact Me and I will get a copy to collect and file with your submission.  We have to work together to get the consumer protection people to listen!


Please know I am not just a complainer. I have been in IT for 20 years and my job has always been troubleshooting and finding root causes of problems. I firmly believe it’s a bug or issue in the back end software that does the billing since clearly the original meter tested fine the issue lies elsewhere for these anomalies.

Lastly here is a link to the secondary meter I am looking at installing so I can collect and download my own data to compare to theirs.  for under $500 it is certainly worth it as a starting point.

About Chris Colotti

Chris is currently a Sr. Cloud Solutions Architect for Tintri. Previously to this he spent close to a decade working for VMware as a Principal Architect. Previous to his nine plus years at VMware, Chris was a System Administrator that evolved his career into a data center architect. Chris spends a lot of time mentoring co-workers and friends on the benefits of personal growth and professional development. Chris is also amongst the first VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX#37), and author of multiple white papers. In his spare time he helps his wife Julie run her decorated apparel business as the accountant, book keeper, and IT Support. Chris also believes in both a healthy body and healthy mind, and has become heavily involved with fitness as a Diamond Team Beachbody Coach using P90X and other Beachbody Programs. Although Technology is his day job, Chris is passionate about fitness after losing 60 pounds himself in the last few years. Now he spreads both the word of technology and fitness along with the Team Beachbody Business through his blogs.

4 comments

  1. Michelle E Hughes

    I would also like to know why they are allowed to discriminate renters. If you are a homeowner, you pay a security deposit that is refunded when service is shut off and the bill is paid in full, but if you are a renter the security deposit is non-refundable!?! Even if you move and stay in the same district, they require you to pay a security deposit again, even if your bill was always paid on time! What is the justification of this business practice?

    • That’s interesting….I did not pay any deposit as a home owner to install the new tap when we built our home. Maybe that is after a home is sold, but yes that seems very unfair…

  2. We have a leak under road or in other area. 300 feet on our driveway . Then road and then 300 feet to meter. We replaced piping on our property. Still a leak. They said we had to hire someone. Help!!! On SS. Cannot afford. So our bill stays high.

    • I can feel for you. The only real thing you can do is install your own secondary meter like I did with the remote logging device so you can capture the data at the house. Then you can request detailed usage and compare yours to theirs. AMAZINGLY, since they replaced the meter…..my bills have not changed even though they said the first meter “tested 100% fine”

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