In September 2018, Los Osos resident Lars Lindgren paid an inexplicably high water bill. Afterward, he made sure to do everything in his power to ensure it didn't happen again. He locked his spigots; he consulted with his landscaper and plumber; he bought a new hot water heater.
That's why, a year later, Lindgren was dismayed to see his August/September bill come in even higher than before—$1,212.50. The 80,036 gallons of water allegedly consumed marked a 650 percent increase above his usual use.
"To find this big spike again ... we didn't know what to think of it," Lindgren told Los Osos CSD board members at a Nov. 7 meeting. "We've done a lot of things to make sure we're not wasting water. ... I was just very concerned and a little confused and frustrated."
Lindgren wasn't alone. Matthew Gellerman, who lives across town from Lindgren, also received a mysterious bill of $1,392.50 for the same billing cycle.
Both residents protested the high bills to the CSD board of directors.
"I know these situations are difficult, since there's really no explanation where the water went," Ron Munds, general manger of the Los Osos CSD, told his board. "In this case, there was really no indication of what happened here."
CSD officials claim that their water meter readings are accurate. They found no leaks or issues that would suggest otherwise.
"I don't think the meter is lying," Director Matthew Fourcroy said. "I think the water ... went somewhere, but obviously we're not sure where."
Board President Marshall Ochylski noted that Los Osos experiences "a regular September spike" on water bills that's of concern to him.
"But nothing to this level," he said. "I don't know what to say. It seems bizarre that this has happened the last couple of Septembers."
The board voted unanimously to offer a "middle ground" rate for both customers. While the exact amount wasn't shared, Munds said the compromise would be somewhere in between the customers' typical bill and the September anomalies.
Board members expressed sympathy for the customers, noting that they seemed to be trying their best to get to the bottom of the mystery.
"I don't know what more they can do," Director Vicki Milledge said. "I love a mystery, don't get me wrong, but this one is just weird." Δ