From today's Post-Gazette, a huge water main break has sunk storage levels of water and residents of the South Communities, my home in Dormont included, are being asked to conserve water.
The incident itself isn't worth getting that upset about, it happens. However, I can see where this is heading. I've dealt with Penn-American before and can tell you the results aren't pretty.
At my old apartment, I randomly got hit with a $1,400 water bill. After calling to try to get the obvious mistake fixed, I got told that I can't just decide I don't want to pay a bill. This lead to months of complaining, being passed around to different departments, and generally being jerked around in hopes I'd give in. Eventually, I did get the matter resolved, but I can tell you that it wasn't easy.
It was very shortly thereafter that we all got hit with rate increases. When one of the public utilities decides to raise rates, they need to inform their customers and ask for public feedback. I wrote a letter about how they should focus more on being more efficient with internal processes before asking the consumer to fund their incompetence, but, of course, it did no good.
Another incident related to them happened just in the past few weeks. I was walking my dog in my neighborhood when I saw water streaming steadily out of one of those water caps in the road. Trying to be helpful, I called them to let them know about it. First off, it took considerable effort and time just to navigate the phone system to get someone on the line who could help me with this. It was obvious that the person's phone script didn't include how to deal with a situation like this, because she kept asking me for information like account numbers, despite the fact that this had nothing to do with my account or my house.
I didn't see anyone come to do anything about the leak for a few days. Then the problem just re-occurred one cap down the road, which also continued for at least a full day before being addressed.
When you consider the who knows how many gallons of water being lost in my neighborhood plus anywhere else this is happening, plus what must have been a huge loss of water today, I'm sure Penn-American has lost a pretty penny. But you can be sure it won't be them who ends up paying for that water, it'll be us when our rates get raised yet again and there won't be anything any of us will be able to do about it.