Editor's note: Contact7 seeks out audience tips and feedback to help people in need, resolve problems and hold the powerful accountable. If you know of a community need our call center could address, or have a story idea for our investigative team to pursue, please email us at email@example.com or call (720) 462-7777. Find more Contact7 stories here .
ARVADA, Colo. – Several Arvada residents are questioning the accuracy of their water bills.
One reached out to Contact7 to see if there is an issue with the city’s billing system.
“Usually, my husband pays the water bill,” said Kylee Harrington, “but when I got it this month, we were kind of shocked.”
Harrington said that at $500, her most recent bill is triple the normal amount.
“We thought maybe it was the hot tub,” she said, “then when I did the math, our hot tub (uses) only 325 gallons, and this (bill) is (for) nearly a hundred thousand gallons of water.”
The Arvada mom questions how that’s possible.
“We cut back on the use of our sprinkler system,” she said. “We’re an average family. We don’t do a lot of laundry, or a lot of dishes.”
Harrington checked “Arvada Neighborhoods & Friends,” and saw several people raising questions about the same thing.
One poster wrote: “Holy Crap – I thought it was just us. We were gone the ENTIRE month of June and somehow our June/July bill INCREASED $70.”
That triggered more questions in Harrington’s mind.
“When I saw that, I actually stopped payment on my check,” she said, “until I can figure it out.”
Arvada’s communications manager, Maria Vanderkolk, said that’s not a good idea.
“We will turn off water for lack of payment,” she said, “although our policy is typically – you’ll get a warning, you’ll get a letter, and finally we’ll turn your water off.”
Vanderkolk told Denver7 that complaints about water bills are cyclical.
“This happens every couple of years or so,” she said, “particularly like this year, when we’ve had a very hot, dry summer, and people may not be aware of the amount of water that they’re using to just keep up with the lack of rainfall.”
But Vanderkolk added that on occasion, there is something wrong, like a water leak.
“It could be in your irrigation system,” she said. “It could be in your toilet. It’s amazing how quickly a little leak can accumulate into a lot of gallons of water.”
Vanderkolk said citywide, residents use 8-million gallons of water daily, during winter months, and upward of 35 million gallons of water daily during summer.
“We don’t have water restrictions this year, so we haven’t really messaged a lot about watering once every three days,” she said. “When we are in a drought situation and people are restricted in their watering habits, it really forces them to pull back.”
Locating Common Water Leaks
According to the Utilities page on the City of Arvada website, water leaks are most often associated with a worn-out toilet flapper valve or a problem with a sprinkler system.
- To check for a slow leak on a toilet flapper, add food coloring into the upper tank to see if the color appears in the bowl area. (May require a plumber’s assistance.)
- To check for a leak in the irrigation system, turn off the valve to the irrigation system and leave it off for several minutes. If, when the valve is turned back on, you can feel water flow back into the system, this indicates a leak somewhere in the irrigation line. (May require a plumber’s assistance.)
Vanderkolk said if an Arvada homeowner sees a shocking difference in their water bill and suspects a leak in their system, they should call the Utilities Department.
“We’re happy to do an assessment of your property,” she said. “We’re happy to go over, with you, the history of your water bills.”
The number to call is: 720-898-7760.