CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials with the state Public Service Commission say they need to know more about disputed bills for customers of West Virginia American Water.
Earlier this month, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper sent a letter to the PSC asking the agency to look into the bills of customers who say they might have been overcharged for water usage during January's month-long water crisis.
A chemical leak Jan. 9 into the Elk River just upstream from West Virginia American's water treatment plant intake in Charleston contaminated drinking water for 300,000 people in nine counties and prompted state officials to ban the use of tap water for drinking, cooking or bathing.
During the ban, most residents used their water only for flushing toilets or didn't use the water at all. But when they got their bills for the month of January, many customers were surprised to see their bills were as high as or higher than they had been before the crisis.
Even taking into account water they used to flush out their pipes after the water was declared usable again, many residents said they couldn't possibly have used as much water as the water company said they had.
Steve Curry, of Cross Lanes, got a water bill for the month of January that exactly matched his water usage in December, even though he only used his water for flushing the toilet. Even taking into account the water he used to flush out his pipes, Curry doesn't understand how the bills could be exactly the same.
"I thought it was peculiar, then I started hearing about other people that had the same issue," he said.