June 10 2008

Water Needs To Enter The 21st Century

faucetWe’ve lived in my current house for 23 years. Also on my property is my maternal grandmother’s house and my company warehouse. All three buildings are serviced by the same county water account, so when we pay the bill, it covers all three buildings at once.

The water meter is about 500 feet from my front door, deep in the woods, buried in a ground canister.  To read it, you have to lift the lid, kneel down, reach in to wipe muck and dirt off the glass, and then cover it back up.  Well, several years ago my father went to check it out, and sure enough there was a large snake in the hole.  From then on out, we got the water district to agree to allow us to do an annual reading where we paid them a large sum up front, we would read the meter before the next annual payment, and at that time we would settle up any difference.

All of this was done strictly for safety as none of us wanted to be reaching in to a ground hole with potential snakes more than we absolutely had to.  I know… we’re crazy like that.

This all has worked out without any hiccups for several years now, but at some point the water district has decided to suspend this sort of payment plan without telling us.  As we have been waiting on our annual “go read your meter” letter, we didn’t get anything, so we thought we had the date wrong.  Today I had to run to town to meet a semi truck bringing us a large shipment, and they couldn’t get down our road to deliver it, when done, I called the folks to check in with them since they are on the road, only to learn the property had no water.

It seems my grandmother, who turned 88 today, had called her and informed her that she had no water.  Well, it turned out we had no water at all, and the reason was that we hadn’t received a letter telling us we have to return to reading the meter, and we have to pay by check.

Now, here are my problems with this:

1) In 23 years, we have never missed a payment, but you miss one payment by a week or so when you aren’t even aware the system has changed, and they turn you off?  I am all for paying bills, but seeing as water is essential for life, and there are states passing laws saying you can’t turn off electricity to the elderly in the winter no matter what, there has to be a different system than turning off water.

2) It’s the 21st century and I can’t set up an automatic bank draw or put a credit/debit card on file?  No, I had to run back to town with a check and pay it in person to get the water turned back on by this evening.  It has been so long since I wrote a check, I had to actually think about it as I did it.

3) Supposedly we will be getting wireless meters which will allow them to read the meter remotely, great concept, but why not just let us finally move the stupid meter out of the hole?  It’s been there since before we bought the property, so it pre-dates us, but they’ve never allowed us to move it to someplace more sensible, like the side of a building.

So, yes, I only lost water for a few hours, but considering I have an 88-year-old grandmother to watch over, it’s annoying and worrisome.  What annoys the most is how many companies insist on not updating their system.  We have the same problem with our trash collection in that they only take checks.  I know this sounds incredibely whiny, but… I don’t have time to write checks.  As of today I am the only one home for three weeks solid, I’m working two jobs, and I adore companies that just allow me to use a debit card to pay so I don’t have to think about it.  It’s off my mind, they get their money and everyone gets to go home happy.

Come on folks, its 2008, catch the heck up with the rest of us would ya?

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