Editorial: Watch for surprises in billing, at pump

The Friday Catchall:

• WATER BILLS - It is truly disturbing how some things happen, take for example the problems a Prescott family has faced ... and paid for.

They emailed this week: "We've just had a very costly experience with a landscape irrigation system that likely is the culprit, resulting in a $694 utility bill. A month before it was $91.00." The writer, who wants to remain anonymous, is referring to what the most recent monthly meter reading for City of Prescott water "revealed" - that "we had used 10 (times) the normal average, 44,400 gallons vs. our usual 4,500 in the period."

Fortunately, the city Water Department gave them a heads up before the sum was due, and offered a Leak Adjustment that cut the bill in half; "all the same, the experience was a total shock and still leaves us questioning how it could have been prevented beforehand."

I agree. You're not left feeling comfortable when a faulty water valve, city employees said, could have permitted a constant flow of water, unchecked, "unless we had read the meter on our own and detected a leak when everything was off."

The resident is on the right track when he says, "It still seems implausible that there would not have been evidence of this leak, but apparently not."

Add to that they cannot be the only ones. Warning: periodically checking your water meter is a good idea, one that is cheap enough in light of a potential, big and expensive surprise.

• GOT GAS? - I received a message from a reader after my Catchall this past Friday, giving some frightening news. I stated that, according to AAA, the highest price at the pumps in the state that week was in Flagstaff at $3.06 per gallon. Well, apparently an exception exists. The caller said he went to Las Vegas and on the return trip found a gas station in Arizona along Highway 93 with the low price of $3.99 per gallon.

Seems like the farther you get from that Tucson pipeline (and toss in the tourist effect?), anything is possible.

- Tim Wiederaenders, city editor

Follow Tim Wiederaenders on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2032, twieds@prescottaz.com or 928-420-6472.