PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Pinellas County Utility (PCU) customers who pay $20 a month for reclaimed water are complaining that they’re still getting the bills, but they’re not getting the water they paid for.
“I first noticed it a month ago,” said Seminole homeowner John Whiteside. “I told them I’m paying for water I’m not getting.”
PCU tells You Paid For It that it has received 13 complaints so far, but the problem could impact as many as 900 customers. This potentially means that customers are not receiving a service they pay more than $17,000 a month to receive.
After You Paid For It starting asking questions, PCU issued an alert late Friday, advising reclaimed water customers of the trouble.
“Your area has been experiencing reduced reclaimed water pressure,” the alert said. “Pinellas County has improved the pressure and customers should have reclaimed water between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. Thank you for your patience as we work to resolve the issue.”
Whiteside insists whatever “improvement” PCU is making hasn’t helped his lawn.
“I tested it at 4:30 in the morning, 8 in the morning, 12 at noon, and 6 p.m., and there was no pressure,” Whiteside said Friday.
“I asked them if they would give me a credit for the water that I’m not using or the water that I’m not getting,” Whiteside said. “They said that’s not part of the charter. Whether I get zero water, or a million gallons, it didn’t matter, I still had to pay for it.”
PCU blames the trouble in a reclaimed water main break at 54th Avenue North and Park Street about a mile away from its South Cross Bayou Water Reclamation plant. As of late Friday, workers had dug a hole more than 10 feet deep at that location and still hadn’t found the pipe or the leak. Pinellas County spokeswoman Irena Karolak said Friday that repairs could take weeks longer to complete.
Randi Kim, the Director of Technical Services for Pinellas County Utilities tells 8 On Your Side there is now a possibility that the county will credit nearly 900 customers in the Seminole area believed to be impacted by the water shortage.
“We’re looking at that because we realize that’s absolutely not a fair situation because they re paying a monthly feel and we’re not able to deliver that water,” Kim said.” It’s been four weeks since the damage of that pipe initially occurred.”
Kim says the trouble started when a contractor hired to take soil samples accidentally punctured the reclaimed water main on Park St. about 21 feet beneath the surface.
“It was a misstep by one of our contractors who was doing some drilling activities,” Kim said.
Kim suggests that homeowners irrigate with reclaimed water between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. when water pressure will be the highest.
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