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Water Bill Complaints Rushing In Throughout North Texas

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NORTH TEXAS (CBS11) - A shockingly high water bill left Lisa Barham furious with the city of Plano.

"I'm angry. I'm super angry. And I'm going to fight," she said.

The city itself, though, is also unhappy with its bills.

Last year, it spent around 20 million dollars on water it never touched.  Along with several other cities, it's seeking a change in the North Texas Municipal Water District's "use it or lose it" system. Some feel it creates unfairness.

Take, for example, nearby McKinney and Richardson.

Under their contracts with the water district, they're both obligated to pay for about 10 billion gallons of water.

But while McKinney's booming population used 89 percent of that last year, Richardson's used only 65 percent.

"That's a bad deal for Richardson, then," said Richardson homeowner Geoff McIntyre.When the cities pass on their costs, Richardson consumers like McIntyre end up paying more per gallon. So, while 20 thousand gallons will cost a McKinney homeowner $77 dollars, it'll cost a Richardson one $99.

NTMWD spokesperson Janet Rummel says the cities may not currently use all the water they pay for, but at one point in their history they did.

Their payments, she said, are still helping cover the construction of pipes and facilities that made it possible to meet that once high demand.
"It's the price of the system that gets the water to the cities," she said.

The expenses continue to climb, too, as the district builds additional facilities to prepare for future droughts and population growth.

The district says it is coming up with a process by which the cities can discuss changing the way they share costs, but every one of them would have to agree before a change could be made.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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