Two people who live in the same area and use the same amount of water each month pay wildly different rates, and the reason could have you checking your bills more closely.
Every time Betty Underhill washes the dishes or does a load of laundry, she can't help but get upset all over again - not for herself, but for longtime friend Dr. Jerry Maynard.
"I was helping him pay his bills, and I looked at his water bills and I thought how can he be using three times the amount on water that I am and he's living alone," Underhill said.
Underhill, who lives in Old Hickory, pays about $14 a month for her Metro Water Services bill. Maynard, who lives a few miles away in Hermitage, pays about $42 a month for the same amount of water.
Initially, Underhill thought it must be some sort of clerical error, so she went speak with someone at Metro Water.
But when she finally talked to a supervisor, she couldn't believe what she heard.
"She said, 'The difference is your bill water is piped through a five-eighth-inch pipe and his comes through a one-inch pipe,'" Underhill said. "I thought this makes absolutely no sense. No sense."
"I've never heard of a situation like this," said John Kennedy, with Metro Water Services.
Kennedy said when Maynard's townhome was built, the developer installed larger meters typically seen in businesses instead of the standard five-eighth-inch residential size.
One-inch meters deliver more water faster, but they also have higher rates.
"If you're a business, for example, and you consume a massive amount of water, we have to have more infrastructure in place to be able to serve you," Kennedy said. "We would encourage him to at least explore the possibility to replace that meter with a standard size."
But making that switch only happens on the customer's dime. That's not an option, says Underhill.
"That doesn't feel fair to me. That doesn't seem right," she said.
While Metro Water says this type of situation is rare, they say everyone should check their bill to see what size meter they have. If you have a one-inch box and would like a smaller meter, just call the water company's customer service line.
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