Below is the original posting, with chart (and I apologize for how fuzzy it is–the old style clarity and ability to blow-up the chart does not seem to be available on WordPress any longer); what follows the original material is my assessment of the chart, and real-world progress in the querents’ case. I’ll also answer each of you who so kindly offered your take on the chart, within the comments section.
I’m going to ask for your help with this one; since I’m close to the querents, it’s tough for me to take an objective view.
Let’s pretend it’s the Old West, and Water is a precious commodity. One day, our intrepid heroes (the querents–1st House) wake up to find that somehow tens of thousands of gallons of water have, supposedly, run through their system (while they were out-of-town for many weeks), and they’re left with a whopping bill (over $700 for one month, for a single-family residence–I should note that no one was in the house, and even when the entire family of four are present, water consumption is less than one-third of what they were charged for this month). Inspection proves that there is no haphazardly running tap, no breech in the lines, and the meter is not currently registering any activity, so a leak is not the cause. That leaves only two alternatives: fraud on the part of the water company, or water rustlers. Now, if you’re not from the Western US, or another part of the world where ranching and farming depend on underground water supplies, you may find the theft of water hard to believe. The final scene of ‘There Will Be Blood,’ where Daniel Day-Lewis talks about long long straws dipping in to other people’s distant milkshakes, aptly describes the kind of water commandeering that has been going on since well pumps, or perhaps since the first simple diversion of an underground stream, first occurred. Water rights are almost a sacred thing in the desert areas where I grew up, so theft in this case did seem to me a possibility (think of how much water it takes to fill an in-ground pool or hot tub). On the other hand, fraud by a co-operative utility that is progressively finding more and more of their assets cut into by residents resorting to solar panels, generators, simple downsizing on use due to high prices, installation of independent wells, and a diminishing population in the area, not to mention some very poor decisions in the buying and selling of their primary commodity (electricity), in their settlement with union employees, and in their decision to build a new headquarters for tens of millions against the wishes of their shareholders (the public), have put this utility in a bad way financially–all of this makes systematic fraud a distinct possibility, as well.
Below is the chart; I’d love to hear what you think. And many thanks to those who can take the time to give an opinion.
I follow some pretty cut-and-dried horary rules, based on March and McEvers’ excellent ‘The Only Way to . . .’ series, so when I saw the Void Moon, I was done; the problem, though, was what do I tell the client? I use two phrases to describe the outcome of a question posed during the Void Moon: ‘Nothing will come of it,’ or ‘There’s nothing to worry about,’ and I had no idea which would prevail–would ‘nothing’ indicate that, no matter what they did, the bill would stand as it was? Or was there indeed, nothing to worry about, implying that things would be resolved in the client’s favor? You can see my dilemma!
Currently, the querents are vigorously pursuing a reasonable adjustment, using past water use patterns and billing, as well as the evidence of mutiple parties’ inspections of the house and grounds, with no evidence of excess water anywhere, and an apparently functioning meter (which has been thoroughly vetted by the utility) but just this morning one of the querents told me that she spoke with the utility rep, who called her ‘irrational’ because she did not accept his explanation that the 100,000 gallon flow-through (yes! one hundred thousand!) just started and stopped spontaneously, leaving no evidence behind! The governing board of the utility meets this week, and the matter will be raised; meanwhile, the querents are contemplating a class-action suit, as during this morning’s conversation, the client said that the utility rep admitted to her that they had handled 17 similar complaints just last week–and in such a relatively small place, that’s a significant number, possibly signalling malfeasance, rather than mistake.