Glitch at DPW Yields Screwed-Up (Shortened) Water Bills

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Was your water bill for last month extraordinarily low? Unfortunately, your low household consumption probably wasn’t the reason.

Baltimore City’s Department of Public Works announced Monday that water bills that recently went out had a shortened reading period caused by a software mishap.

“The shortened reads were caused by a glitch when a security patch was installed on the billing computer,” said a statement from the city agency.

(This reporter can attest to it – an August water bill just shy of two dollars certainly seemed off, but hey, why not roll with it?)

As a result, the next bill you receive may seem much higher, as DPW had to use a longer reading period to make up for the lost time in the previous billing cycle. But don’t be fooled into thinking you’re overpaying, DPW says. “Fixed charges and fees will not increase, and customers will not end up paying more than they would have otherwise.”

Baltimore is clearly still getting used to its shifted water and sewer billing system. The city switched last year from the traditional quarterly billing cycle to a monthly one, and upgraded its software with a new system called BaltiMeter that breaks out water and sewer usage costs, flat fees for infrastructure and account management and the so-called rain tax.

Perhaps more significantly, the city eliminated its minimum usage fee for all, which helped hold vacant property owners accountable for not maintaining or updating their buildings, and hiked sewer and water rates by about 10 percent to help fund ongoing upgrades to the city’s infrastructure.

Locals had griped about issues with their water bills, including random spikes, well before last year’s overhaul. In this case, DPW is reassuring customers it will get things back on track to a normal monthly billing cycle.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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