Water Mess

Commentary is a homeowner in the City of H-Town. That means I pay city property taxes.  I also pay sales tax and a small part of this sales tax also goes to the city.

I should not have to go out on a regular basis to see if my water meter is working. 

Here is from the Chron E-Board today:

At what point do fiscally responsible policies become, well, irresponsible?

Perhaps when Houston retirees living on a fixed income are overcharged by hundreds of dollars on their water bills due to outdated meters. Or when Houston’s Public Works department can’t hire enough workers to manually read meters when they fail. Or when a plan to replace aging meters falls behind by two years, and lacks the resources to expedite the process.

This is the problem that roughly 48,000 Houston households face: aging water meters that frequently malfunction, forcing the public works department to guesstimate bills based on historical data. Yet the algorithm assumed events such as one-time water leaks that cost customers more, were regular occurrences leading to many customers receiving water bills totaling upwards of $1,000, compared to the median bill of around $71 for a house using 4,000 gallons of water. In the past three years, the number of malfunctioning devices in a given month has more than doubled, from 36,800 in 2020 to 91,000. As the Chronicle’s Yilun Cheng reported, this has led to many residents being chronically overcharged, resulting in a surge in complaints that the city is understaffed and ill-equipped to handle.

Nearly every city has its budget woes and must make difficult choices, struggling to fully fund everything from police to parks. Yet Houston is in a category of its own. 

Despite the city’s thriving economy, addressing basic maintenance problems becomes a triage exercise. The city’s lack of financial flexibility means it typically waits until things are literally falling apart before scrambling to find the money to address it. Federal COVID aid was a timely salve, but those funds are rapidly dwindling, potentially compromising future city budgets. 

And this:

The water meter issue is, unfortunately, not easily solvable. The Public Works department has taken the minimal step of acknowledging the problem exists, apologizing to customers in a letter sent last week. The city has committed to notifying customers once their accounts are corrected and Katelynn Burns, a spokeswoman for Public Works, said those customers will not incur late fees or experience service interruptions. The city is also reviewing a revised plan to replace outdated water meters. 

Here is the entire read: Broken water meters, broke city. Houston is falling apart. (Editorial) (houstonchronicle.com).

I have not received my letter. I found out about my faulty meter by calling. In the past, my water meter was read electronically. I don’t even know how long it was faulty. If the city knew, why does it take so long to let folks know. In my case, they didn’t let me know. I had to find out on my own.

What a mess, err water mess.


From the Chron:

After starting less than a year ago, Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale’s free sports website, Gallery Sports, is closing.

A closure announcement appeared on the site’s social media and informed people to follow McIngvale’s Twitter account for more information. Gallery Sports did not provide an explanation as to why it is closing.

Comprised of current and former sportswriters, like former Houston Chronicle writers John McClain, Richard Justice and John P. Lopez, the site covered NFL, college football, Houston Astros, University of Houston men’s basketball and the Houston Rockets.

After the site launched in September 2022, McIngvale told the Chronicle the site is less concerned about revenue and more concerned about attracting viewers.

McIngvale also said he planned to launch a second site, Gallery Gaming, that would be centered on sports gambling.

To be honest with you, I never knew Mack had a sports website. Oh, well.


Hall of Fame great Brooks Robinson is 86 today. Happy Birthday, Brooks Robinson!

Hall of Fame great Reggie Jackson is 77 today. Happy Birthday, Reggie Jackson!  Reggie is now an advisor to Astros owner Jim Crane.

What a win last night for the sweep.  Winning is nice. That is four in a row. We have today off. It’s Thursday, you know.

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