Residents in one Fort Pierce neighborhood say their water bills have been steadily increasing for months, and in some cases, quadrupling.
They’re worried they are paying for more than just their own water usage, and they could be right.
Since March, residents of Pine View Mobile Home and RV Park have watched the steady hike.
“It was $56, then $62, then this month it’s $82. It’s just me and my girlfriend in a motor home,” said a resident.
Carrie Currier is dealing with a similar issue. “I have no choice, I’ve got to move us back into the car.”
Nathan Stafford has one of the highest bills, but says he barely uses any water. His three children share bath water, at times, and he doesn’t own a washing machine. His home is just one bedroom.
In March, his water bill was around $40. In April, it was around $50. By May, the bill more than doubled to $120. His most recent bill is nearly $160.
“That’s crazy…It takes money out of my pocket that I could be providing for my children,” Stafford said.
Stafford says he has no leaks. He hasn’t quadrupled his water use. Other residents say the same thing.
The Fort Pierce Utility Authority bills the neighborhood based on two master meter readings. Property management gives bills to the individual residents.
WPTV spoke to an employee in the property management office Tuesday who said the water bills are based on water usage for the entire community, not necessarily their individual usage.
She explained the property uses the Florida RUBS system of billing, or the Ratio Utility Billing System.
Simply put, the system collects all of the water usage data for the community and divides the bill to each home based on factors such as the size of the home, or the number of people who live in the home. It does not measure how much water is being used by each property.
So, residents say they are paying for water they are not using.
This change went into place earlier this year, according to residents.
Stafford says before the change, the property management included the water bill in the rent. There are only two water meters on the property, not on each unit.
Still, Stafford says changing the billing system should not cause a steady increase in the bill amounts for nearly all residents.
“Something's not going on right around here,” Stafford said. He worries there could be infrastructure problems. “I think they have issues they do not want to dig into their pockets and pay for,” Stafford said.
Now, some residents are calling to have their management company charge them for only the water they use individually. “We all want meters. Water meters.” That way, they say, they could also determine if there is a leak or other issue more easily.
WPTV is waiting for information from Riverstone Communities, LLC district management, the company that oversees Pine View.
A resident of another Fort Pierce neighborhood managed by Riverstone, called Ridgecrest, says they have not seen an increase in water bills.