|We are still in a drought, but the recent rain has improved conditions in Houston, moving us from a federally defined Extreme Drought to Severe Drought.
Three weeks ago, city council approved roughly $48 million in emergency purchase order (EPO) contracts to address water leaks. By comparison, in a non-drought year like 2021, the total expenditures for emergency water repairs were roughly $7.9 million. Roughly 5,630 repairs have been completed since June 1, with city crews addressing 3,190 of those leaks.
The city is currently implementing a long-term strategy to decrease future water leaks by consistently funding and installing small-diameter pipes over the next 20 years. There are 97 miles of new pipes currently planned, with 21 projects in design and two in construction.
Stage Two drought restrictions remain in place to maintain water pressure for firefighters, hospitals, and other life-safety facilities. During Stage Two, outdoor water use is restricted to nighttime hours, beginning at 7 p.m. on your assigned day through 5 a.m. the following morning, on a schedule:
- Sundays and Thursdays for single-family residential customers with even-numbered street addresses
- Saturdays and Wednesdays for single-family residential customers with odd-numbered street addresses
- Tuesdays and Fridays for all other customers
I have also heard from residents experiencing high water bills. Customer account services (CAS) reads and maintains over 500,000 meters throughout the city, serving over 2 million people. Seventy-nine percent of meters are currently read through electronic remote reading devices, with roughly 22,000 meters read manually each day. If part of a water meter is damaged, it could require a manual read or an estimated bill until repairs are made. Due to aging infrastructure, the monthly demand for manual meter reads continues to rise. CAS is working to replace obsolete automated meter reading infrastructure and procure a third-party meter reading contract to meet rising demand.
Water bills go through a quality review, with 78% of readings auto-approved and the remainder flagged for a manual review. By the end of this process, 99.2% of accounts are billed correctly. There are 0.8% incorrect bills which can be attributed to a variety of reasons including aging infrastructure, human performance (for example, an error in visual meter reading), meter reading estimates, inclement weather, and damaged components or meters.
If you believe you have received an incorrect bill, please report it to 311. After your report, send our team the 311 service request number ([email protected]) so we may track the issue for you.