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 Utility Auditing 

      A Case Study for a Water Leak Refund

To:    JCMUA   the Water Authority for Jersey City New Jersey

From: Paul Reed Steberger

Subject: Our Client and their Water leaks at their Jersey City Mall

Date 1-23-2009

 

Here is a timeline and information regarding the issues involving the water leaks. Please be aware that the mall owner, to deal with this in a timely manner, contacted United Water, and the JCMUA regarding these leaks in August 2005. We appreciate your time on this matter.

After contacting JCMUA and United Water, we set out on our own to find the problem that was causing the excess consumption. We found the first leak in Dec. 2006 by the liquor store, meter # 1542251, and repaired it. Consumption dropped to an average of 865ccf from 1440ccf per month. We thought the problem was solved. However, we were wrong because the meter at the pit by the liquor store, meter # 1542251, was under registering. This was replaced by JCMUA with meter # 67348434 in 01-07. When the meter was replaced the new meter, reading showed 1440 at that meter pit, which was much too high based on our readings on the secondary meters at the stores in the mall.

The bill for the new meter was prorated in the amount of $19,661.88, which unknown to us, included the additional leaks ultimately found by Wendy’s. This extremely high bill alerted us to the fact that we had more leaks. This bill should have been in $2500.00 per month which is where it is today.

After receiving the high bill, we searched again for more leaks. One was found in 11-2007 and a second was found in 4-2008. Both were repaired. These leaks produced higher consumption ranging from 1100ccf in Feb-March 06, 2100ccf in April-May 06, and 1880ccf in Oct-Nov 07. After the leaks were repaired, consumption decreased i.e. for the 11-08 billing period, the recorded total mall consumption was 620ccf for the 11-2008 billing period and 560.9ccf for the 10-08 billing period. We anticipate the new average to be in the 620ccf to 700ccf range.

We have paid over $100,000.00, for water/sewer charges due to these leaks, and   the last credit we received of almost $9,000.00 was for water used by the fire dept. without our knowledge, not for a leak adjustment.

You asked me once what a judge might say, and I think he would rule that in view of the effort, the false readings on the faulty meter, and the $20,000.00 plus spent to repair the leaks, there should be a refund for the excess water used during the leak period.

I would add that since there is no stated policy in the JCMUA tariff regarding refunds, it would seem fair to issue at least a credit for sewer services not used.

 

This case was resolved with a $25, 00.00 refund to the client, and a $4,000.00 monthly savings.