City seeks water customers who earned conservation discounts
The Water Utilities Department is seeking to refund $284,138 to 25,031 water customers who did not receive conservation discounts they have earned since 2009.
The average credit owed is $11.35 per customer. In total, 14,225 customers with active accounts are owed $197,557. Another 10,806 non-active account holders are owed $86,581. Active customers will be credited the amount they are due during their next monthly billing cycle. The names of former water customers who earned discounts are published here, along with information about how they can claim their credits.
Water customers earned a conservation discount up to $3.32 for each month from 2009 to the present in which they used no more than 3,000 gallons. The credits were not received because of a coding error in the water billing system.
“We apologize to our customers for this oversight and understand the frustrations this news will cause,” Water Utilities Director Allison Strube said. “We are doing and will do all we can to return what is rightfully theirs to our current and former customers. At the same time, we are taking measures to strengthen incentives to conserve water and to ensure this does not happen again.”
Some customers who had received the conservation discount contacted the Water Utilities Department after noticing the credit was missing from their monthly bill. During their investigation, City officials unearthed an error in a handwritten, 48-page computer code that a former City employee created in 2006 to determine who receives the discount.
The City has begun the process of refunding active customers. If an account closes prior to all the credits being used, the remaining balance will be returned to the customer.
“We encourage any customer who has questions about this to contact us,” Strube said. “We are trying to be as open and transparent about this as possible. Again, we apologize for this mishap and are willing to work overtime to make the customers who were impacted whole again financially.”
The Water Utilities Department plans to soon present to the City Council for its consideration an ordinance that would reward customers who actively conserve water.
“Many of the customers who earn the discount currently are not actively seeking to do so,” Strube said. “They manage to earn the credit simply by circumstance, such as the case with a realtor briefly needing water service for an inspection or a single person living alone in a home. We want to create a robust conservation program that encourages our customers to actively take steps to save water.”
Online customers should seek new credit cards
San Angelo water customers who made one-time online payments between June 17 and Aug. 16 are advised to contact their financial institutions and request a replacement card if they have not already done so.
The City has received the results of a forensics investigation regarding a breach last month to a vendor’s online water payment system. The investigation found that malware skimmed credit card information from the contracted vendor’s server from June 17-Aug. 16. Only online one-time payments – as opposed to payments automatically drafted from a credit card – were at risk. Credit card payments made via auto-pay, by phone or in person were not compromised.
“Replacing a credit card is a hassle; we understand and apologize for that,” Water Utilities Director Allison Strube said. “But we would much rather that inconvenience not be compounded by customers also having to clear unauthorized purchases. We have worked with our vendor to prevent this from happening again.”
Upon learning of the breach, the City disabled all but phone credit card payments until the vendor that processes online payments could update its software and transition to a more secure platform. Online payments at cosatx.us/waterbill were restored Aug. 21.
Customers were advised last month to monitor their credit card accounts for unauthorized charges. Many customers were forced to seek new cards after experiencing unauthorized purchases. Those who did not are still advised to request a replacement card. Skimmed credit card information is often sold well after a breach occurs; illegal purchases may appear weeks or months later.
A letter will be mailed to all customers who made online credit card payments explaining the compromise to the one-time online transactions. The breach did not increase the amount of a customer’s monthly bill.
Water Customer Service
Water Customer Service assists citizens in signing up and paying for the utility services provided through the City of San Angelo: water, sewer and trash pickup.
Do not use DOXO to pay your City of San Angelo water bill.
Recently, some customers reported being directed to a website called DOXO to pay their bill online. The City of San Angelo's water utility is in no way affiliated with this service. The payment option for online payment is secured through our website at cosatx.us/waterbill. If you have questions or are unsure, please call our office at 325-657-4323.
Ways to pay
Five avenues exist for paying a City of San Angelo municipal services statement. You will need your account number.
* Online - Visit the City’s website at cosatx.us/waterbill. Online credit card payments can be made month-to-month or by establishing an automatically recurring payment. Online payments are unavailable from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. daily and from 3:30 a.m.-4:30 a.m. Mondays for system updates.
* Mail - Mail a payment to the City of San Angelo Utility Billing/Collections, P.O. Box 5820, San Angelo, TX 76902. Make checks payable to City of San Angelo-Water or COSA-Water.
* In person - Bring payments to the Utility Billing/Collections office at the City Hall Annex, first floor, 301 W. Beauregard Ave. Business hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. An overnight drop box in the drive-through is available for after hour payments.
* Bank draft – You may set up an automatic monthly draft on your bank account. To establish a draft, visit the Utility/Billing Collections office at the City Hall Annex, first floor, 301 W. Beauregard Ave., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.
* Phone – You may also call Customer Service at 325-657-4323 and select the option to make a payment over-the-phone. Long-distance users may call 1-855-419-2758. Phone payments are unavailable from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. daily and from 3:30 a.m.-4:30 a.m. Mondays for system updates.
For more information about the municipal services statement and payments, call 325-657-4323.
Info needed to activate services
- Service address.
- Valid Driver's license.
- Social Security card (for a residential account).
- Tax ID number (for a commercial account).
- Phone number.
- Mailing address.
- Rental / lease / purchase agreement
- Completed utility services acknowledgment & right to access form (online version or PDF)
Connections are scheduled for next-day service. (Customers must first complete a utility services acknowledgment & right to access form, which can be filled out online or using this PDF.) Customers requesting service may also download a residential application (PDF) or a commercial application (PDF). Customers who call on Friday will be connected the following Monday.
- Connection times are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
- After-hour connections and re-connections are available Mondays-Fridays for an additional service fee of $50. All fees must be paid in advance during regular business hours. Requests for new service connection will be available on weekends and holidays. New customers will be required to come in person to complete paperwork and payment by 10 a.m. the next available business day.
- For more information, call Customer Service at 325-657-4323.
Costs to activate new residential service
- $20 activation fee for new accounts.
- $100 deposit for water/sprinkler (deposit may vary, depending on meter size and customer history).
- $50 sewer deposit (if no water service).
- $50 trash deposit (if no water service).
- $50 after-hours connection fee (if applicable).
- If transferring service, your deposit will transfer as well.
Understanding your municipal services statement
The municipal services statement you receive monthly from the City of San Angelo includes fees other than water. Depending upon a household’s usage, water fees can represent as little as 35 percent of the monthly bill, with charges for trash service, storm water and sewer accounting for the balance.
Here’s a line-item primer for each of the charges that appear on a residential statement:
- Trash service - provided by Republic Services, with whom the City contracts for trash service and landfill operations.
- Trash sales tax - 8.25-percent sales tax applied to trash service charges.
- Storm water fee - determined by the amount of impervious area on a property – typically roofs, driveways, patios, walkways and sidewalks – that contribute to rainwater flowing into the storm water drainage system.The fees help fund City efforts to meet federally mandated regulations for maintaining those systems. Storm water fee rates are tiered. As impervious surface area increases, a higher rate applies. The average residential homeowner pays $3 or $4 per month.
- Sewer base fee - determined by the size of the customer’s water meter. The fees fund the operation of the wastewater sewer system. Most residences have a meter that measures five-eighths of an inch and currently pays $28.02 per month. Of that amount, $4.64 is designated for capital improvements to the sewer system.
- Sewer usage fee - based upon an average monthly water usage during December, January and February. Customers who average more than 4,000 gallons per month during that span pay $3.54 for each additional 1,000-gallon increment.
- Water base fee - determined by the size of the customer’s meter. A residence using a five-eighths of an inch meter (the most common size) pays $26.68 per month with $3.32 designated for water-related capital improvements. Water main replacements, Hickory Aquifer infrastructure and fees related to exploration of other potential water sources are examples of capital improvements.
- Water usage fees - determined by two factors: how much water a customer uses and what drought level the city is under. The water rate structure is tiered; as a customer uses more water, he pays a higher rate.
Water customers who live outside the city limits pay 1.5 times the rate paid by city dwellers. Water usage is billed in 1,000-gallon increments. If a new customer uses 1,500 gallons of water the first month, charges are for 1,000 gallons that month. The remaining 500-gallon balance rolls forward until it reaches a 1,000-gallon increment. If the following month the customer used 1,500 gallons, the charge is for 2,000 gallons of usage. For each 1,000 gallons billed, 95 cents is allocated to the water capital improvement fund. Each mailed bill includes a memo box noting the amount dedicated to water and sewer capital projects.
Other municipal service charges you should know about:
- A 15% late fee if not paid within 25 days of the billing date. Payments made after 5 p.m. apply to the next business day.
- A $25 fee for returned checks.
- A $30 fee is required to reconnect service. Outstanding balances and fees are due prior to reconnection.
- A $20 activation fee plus a deposit when an account is established. The amount of the deposit depends upon the customer’s credit history with the Water Utilities Department. The minimum deposit is $35. Deposits are refunded after a four-year period if the customer has no delinquent payments or service discontinued.
Customers who pay their bills online at cosatx.us/waterbill may note a difference between the online balance and the mailed statement balance. The online balance is a current balance and includes any changes to the account since the statement billed.
A conservation credit applies to customers who use less than 3,000 gallons in a month. Ten percent of the base rate and usage fees credit the customer’s account in the following month.
Customers who have questions regarding their statement or their service are encouraged to call the Water Customer Service Division at 325-657-4323; visit our offices at the City Hall Annex, first floor, 301 W. Beauregard Ave., adjacent to City Hall; or email Customer Service Manager Petra Trevino.
We want all of our customers to fully understand their municipal services statement and enjoy a pleasant customer service experience.
Current drought level
As of Sept. 18, San Angelo is in standard conservation, which restricts outside watering to twice every seven days at no more than 1 inch per week and not between the hours of noon to 6 p.m. Runoff of more than 150 feet down any street, gutter, alley or ditch is also prohibited.