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Santa Fe carwash overbilled $70,000 in water usage

SANTA FE, N.M. — After years of fighting it, the city admitted its mistake.


SANTA FE, N.M. — According to, after three years of back and forth, in which the Santa Fe water department refused to believe it had made a mistake, the department took the blame for overbilling a carwash by about $70,000.

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During the three-year period, the Oilstop carwash in Santa Fe saw a strange spike in its water bill, the article continued.

“So these are our closed hours and 100 gallons are being used every single hour,” said Oilstop manager Ben Enns while showing KRQE News 13 a graph of the meter’s reading. “And, if we had a leak at that magnitude, we’d see a huge puddle of water coming up somewhere.”

Enns said that they looked for leaks everywhere but could find nothing, the article noted.

“No toilets are running, no water sprinkling somewhere, no cars are being washed,” said Enns.

Plumbers and city workers checked the water lines for years before finding the problem, the article added.

“He was convinced it was on our side of the meter, he was convinced it was on their side of the meter and we went back and forth,” said Enns. “But luckily we were able to discover that the meter was the issue.”

According to the city, a leak on its side of the water system was running up Oilstop’s meter, the article continued.

“It was on the city side on one of the risers,” said Caryn Fiorina, Santa Fe’s utility billing director.

Fixing the meter proved that Oilstop was not using the excess water, the article noted.

“Oilstop was great,” said Fiorina. ”They kept their account current, paying large bills.”

Over time, those large bills added up, and the city has agreed to pay it back, the article noted.

“$69,266.33,” said Fiorina. “So it represents about three years of overpayment.”

“You hate to see that happen, but things happen,” said Enns. “And when they do, people do the right thing, especially like the city government.”


The city council still has to approve the nearly $70,000 refund, but the utilities department believes this was an isolated incident, the article concluded.

Read the original article here.

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