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Underwater In Palm Bay.

The last few years have not been kind to the Palm Bay Utilities Division, specifically the water and sewage part.

The City’s contractor which was processing online payments was hacked not once but twice. The City sent a notice out saying to contact the contractor for possible reimbursement of costs related to the hack such as new checks, etc. That number went to a call center who would take your name and phone number and that was the end of it. The City was saying “contact the vendor,” but the vendor was not answering the phone.

The City changed the vendor for online payments and they are having issues with that as well. A recent notice came out saying that bills viewed online may be late in appearing, but graciously the City would not charge you if your payment for a bill you could not see was late.

How kind of them.

Anyway, a reader of the blog contacted us about another incident.

It seems that their water bill was higher than normal. The water usage was five times what is was normally. (Remember that number – five times the normal usage.) They are single and environmentally conscience, so they called the City.

They had checked all the water sources in the house and didn’t hear anything.

They called the City and explained the problem and spoke with a nice person who said to check again and then call back because they would come out and check the meter.

The reader called a friend who came out and turned off the water to the house at a valve just prior to the line entering the house. The meter didn’t move, which meant that the meter was fine.

They went and checked all of the connections where water could be leaking – the faucets, the toilets, the clothes washer, the refrigerator…..everything.

They found nothing.

Yet when the water was turned on back at the main valve, it was moving.

Fearing a slab leak, they turned off the valve to the water into the house (a separate valve.) The meter stopped moving which meant that the leak was inside of the house.

They checked everything and were baffled. They couldn’t find it.

Then they noticed that one of the toilet bowls was higher than normal. The toilet is never used and out of the way.

Turns out that when the cover was lifted, the fill valve had gone bad and was silently sending water straight out the drain. With the cover on the tank, you could not hear the water running, and there was no rippling in the bowl.

They replaced the valve.

After checking the meter again, it was not showing movement which meant the problem was solved.

So the reader called the City because they had asked to be kept in the loop of solving the issue.

They spoke to the same person who was very nice and then they asked for the possibility of a rebate on the water bill as the representative had told them the day before.

The representative said to submit an email to the City Utilities Department and they would deal with it.

The reader did just that.

One September 3, 2021, they sent an email to the City explaining what had happened, what had been done to fix the problem, etc.

They immediately got an email back from the City with a “DO NOT REPLY” email address saying:

Thank you for your email. We will respond within three (3) business days. If this is an emergency or time sensitive, please call our office at 321-952-3420 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 8am to 5pm. Thursday 9:30am to 5pm.

Being a patient person, and after they had not heard from the City, on September 16, they wrote the City again:

To whom it may concern:

The email below was sent to the City of Palm Bay on September 3, 2021. I had called and asked what to do in this situation and was told to send an email by the customer service representative.

On September 3, 2021, at 11:37 AM I received the following automated reply:

Thank you for your email. We will respond within three (3) business days. If this is an emergency or time sensitive, please call our office at 321-952-3420 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday 8am to 5pm. Thursday 9:30am to 5pm.

This is the 9th business day and I have yet to hear anything back from the City.

I understand that things get lost, misplaced or overtaken by events, but I figure that waiting three times the number of business days that the City requested is sufficient.

Is there an updated status on this?

Thank you.

This got a response from the City:

Good Afternoon,

Unfortunately when trying to adjust the water bill the usage was not high enough to get you an adjustment.

That’s all the City said. No apology for taking so long to respond. No idea of the threshold for what was too high of a water bill. No reference to a policy that could be seen. And no mention as to why the CSR said they could adjust it, but this person said they wouldn’t.

It’s a minor thing, buy we are shaking our head at the lack of critical thinking here. A bill where five times the amount of water was used was not high enough usage.

Did more water need to be wasted?

Six times the normal amount? Ten times? One hundred times?

Don’t get us wrong. In the scheme of things we aren’t talking about a great deal of money. But the fact of the matter is that no one seems to have thought this through where it is better to waste more money in order to get an adjustment then to be responsible and fix leaks and get the same adjustment to the same level.

Almost makes one think that they really don’t care about water usage, but the money behind the usage.



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