Metron Farnier Water Meter Problems

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Stanley Gairey couldn’t understand how he had gone through 2,700 gallons of water at his home in one day. Gairey, a 67-year-old Santa Fe native, called the city’s Water Division to get an explanation. Instead of getting an answer, however, all he got was an answering machine that repeated the same message, adding to his frustration.

“He claimed he was on hold with the Water Div. at the same time he was speaking to me and has been on hold for over 15 minutes,” Therese Prada of the city’s Office of Constituent Services wrote in a Nov.

16 email to Diana Catanach, the utility billing director. “He also mentioned that this happened right after the new meter was installed (he was very unhappy).”.

Gairey’s complaint is among more than two dozen logged in writing against the city’s Utility Billing Division in the last six months, about the same time the city started to replace defective meters with a new “smart” meter-reading system.

The New Mexican first reported a spike in complaints over water bills last month, most of which stemmed from the installation of new water meters. But the complaint documents, including one laced with profanity, illustrate a deep level of frustration felt by utility customers over a range of issues beyond billing errors, including unusually long wait times over the phone, failures to notify customers about service cutoffs and the City Council’s practice of siphoning money from water ratepayers in recent years to shore up the general fund.

“The water folks did a terrible job regarding notification of homeowners about replacing water meters with ‘smart’ meters.

Our water went off in the middle of the afternoon, and I had no idea whether it was a problem in our house or from the street,” Craig Campbell wrote in an email to City Councilor Joseph Maestas, who told Campbell he was also “disappointed” in the lack of notification.

“Secondly,” Campbell added, “I am in the camp that believes the Water Department should have been required to return at least 50 percent of the huge overcharge rather than assign it to other City functions.