Jackson city leaders announce they’re cutting off water for nonpayment beginning Aug. 3

Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 9:56 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If you haven’t paid your water bill, now could be the time to do it.

Jackson city leaders say they will begin to shut off customers for nonpayment beginning August 3.

Officials gave the Jackson City Council an update on all things water and sewer at a special ad-hoc committee meeting on Wednesday.

A good part of the meeting was spent discussing efforts to replace the city’s previous water billing system.

Mike Secor, a program manager with Water Sewer Billing Administration (WSBA), said crews have installed about 20,000 new water meters and have finished up work to replace the billing system in the WSBA office.

Meters are being installed as part of a professional services agreement with Sustainability Partners.

Jackson hired the Arizona-based firm in 2020 to help WSBA procure, replace and maintain the commercial meters that were installed as part of the Siemens contract. In May 2021, the contract was amended to allow Sustainability Partners to replace the city’s residential meters as well.

Crews began installing meters in February. Since October, water/sewer revenues for the city have increased by about $6.3 million. However, data shows that much of that came from revenue collections in October, November, and December, prior to the new meters going into the ground.

Secor said additional meter replacements are on tap, with crews expected to put between 52,000 and 54,000 in the ground by the end of the first quarter of 2023.

“We’re very happy with what we’re seeing with the 20,000 in the ground, with accuracies,” Secor said.

Secor said the only accuracy issues occurred in June when an analyst inadvertently changed a setting in the system causing about 1,500 meters to charge customers for water usage based on gallons, rather than 100 cubic feet.

He said WSBA was able to quickly address the problem once they found out about it and said the ease with which it was fixed is a testament to the new billing system.

“That’s a very quick process versus at one point, where we had almost 20,000 stranded bills because of things that needed to be done,” he said. “You will get stranded bills every month. There will be tasks every month... but the volumes are becoming manageable.”

Right now, about 48,000 customers are receiving regular statements. Surveyors report they have been unable to install meters at about 1,400 addresses. Of those, crews could not access meters at about 318 sites, while meters had been encased in concrete at 77 others. Meanwhile, meters have not been replaced at 356 sites because of leaks at the properties.

As progress is made on the meter installation front, WSBA officials announced that they are now beginning to cut off customers for nonpayment.

“We’re in the process today of starting the first cut-offs, [which] we haven’t done in quite some time,” WSBA Deputy Director Chris Cockrell said. “Hopefully, that will encourage people to get on a payment plan.”

To accommodate customer needs, Cockrell said WSBA has expanded its hours of operation to 8 p.m. and is planning to add additional hours on Saturday “so people won’t have to take off work... to come out and handle their business.”

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