Cutler Bay residents experience increases in water bills

Residents in Cutler Bay say that they are experiencing an unusual increase in their water and sewer bills but utility officials claim the issues are almost always the customer’s fault.

Yeni Hernandez, a registered nurse who has been living in Cutler Bay for about five years, said that she usually pays between $150 to $180 every three months.

“I have received three water bills now and we are paying almost $400 for three months,” Hernandez said. “It is very strange because we don’t have sprinklers and we don’t wash our cars at home.”

Hernandez said that she contacted the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, which provides water service for the town. The utility told her the bill was right, even though Hernandez said that she hasn’t increased her consumption.

Hernandez is not the only one.

Early last month, Jeni Rober, a resident of Cutler Bay, posted on the NextDoor app that she was seeing a marked increase in her bills and asked if anyone else was having the same issue.

The post received more than 200 comments.

JoAnne Linardi, a retired science teacher, said she hopes all this attention will bring some needed changes.

“Let’s hope a group force initiates an investigation of some sort, since this seems like a huge case of mismanagement to me,” Linardi said.

Linardi said that her bill has not been fixed but that Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava is looking into the matter. Cava, along with three other county commissioners, is running for Miami-Dade mayor.

“She is very responsive to her constituents, and she can only follow through if individuals personally send her their water bill stories,” Linardi said.

Spokeswoman Mia DeVane said Cava is concerned about this problem and that she is working closely with the WASD. She said that they still don’t know how big an issue this really is as there have been cases where residents received an increase on their bills due to non-payment.

“We will keep investigating if this is something more serious than that,” DeVane said.

And WASD spokeswoman Jennifer Messemer-Skold said that the post on NextDoor doesn’t show the reality of some complaints.

Skold said that residents are usually at fault for an increase in water bills. She said that many of the 25 cases they have reviewed shows that residents haven’t paid their bill on time, or they have toilet leaks and visible leaks.

Skold said that the water usage is measured by each homeowner meter.

“Anything from the meter to the home is the homeowner responsibility,” Skold said.

Skold said that they are working on complains on a case-by-case basis. She suggested residents contact WASD directly because it will be faster than emailing Cava, since the utility can access accounts directly.

Originally from Nicaragua, Maria Grijalva is a senior majoring in journalism at Florida International University. After she graduates, Grijalva wants to pursue her dream of reporting for fashion magazines.