MISSION, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Newly installed water meters are leading to an overcharge in water bills for some city of Mission homeowners and businesses, including the National Butterfly Center (NBC).

Assistant City Manager L. David Flores Jr., M.S., CPM, told ValleyCentral that in September of 2021 is when they began installing new meters. The city has currently installed over 9,000.

Marianna Trevino-Wright, Executive Director for the NBC recalled getting a new meter in November. She said it started going downhill from there.

From Nov. to Dec. of 2021, the NBC was charged $1,567.26 for 700,000 gallons of water, which Trevino-Wright said is “two and half times more” than their average bill.

Based on previous billing statements sent in from the NBC, their average water bill since 2018 was about $189 between Oct. and Dec. averaging 172 gallons for those months. The most water this specific meter has consumed since then was 530 gallons in July 2021.

Oct. 2018-Dec. 2021 water meter bill for the National Butterfly Center

Trevino-Wright told ValleyCentral she was confused as to why the center was being charged such an “erroneous” rate, but that she has a good relationship with the city so she thought it would be handled appropriately.

“I called the city water department and spoke with one of the clerks I’m assuming who said, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll send somebody out there to read your meter again, that it was probably a misread,” said Trevino-Wright.

The city came out that next day and investigated the center’s meter, but told Trevino-Wright shortly after the reading was correct.

Trevino-Wright also gave Flores a call in which she recorded and sent to ValleyCentral where he had told her the new water meters are “very accurate” and to “be prepared” to pay the full water bill.

When ValleyCentral gave Flores a call to get to the bottom of this, he said, “Typically, when we see a project of this size there’s always gonna be a few hiccups here and there.” He has confirmed there are a handful of others within Mission who have received similar bills to the NBC’s.

Flores also commented he is currently trying to rectify the situation with the center by adjusting their water bill.

“We’re working very closely with the contractor. We’re doing everything we can to make sure that our citizens are taken care of,” said Flores.

However, an email sent to Trevino-Wright outlined the adjustment in which they took the yearly average water consumption and calculated the new bill to be $429.66.

Trevino-Wright didn’t find that fair in that the bill she was disputing was for a span of 6 weeks, not 52.

Although the overcharge is uncommon, according to both Trevino-Wright and Flores, Trevino-Wright encourages Mission residents to watch their meter, “especially if they have one of these new ones, and watch their bill and be prepared to fight.”

Flores said because of the large number of water meters the city is responsible for, it’s hard to catch incorrect billing statements.

The meter reader in question has since been replaced and sent off to a third-party testing site.

Flores told ValleyCentral the results could take a few weeks.

If you’re experiencing water meter issues in Mission, you can call the meter department at (956) 580-8660 or the assistant city manager at (956) 580-8768.