FATHOM to roll out upgraded site, city utility customers voice complaints

By LYNETTE SOWELL 
Cove Leader-Press 

During Tuesday evening’s Copperas Cove city council workshop, Lenora Newsom, representing FATHOM water systems, gave a presentation about upgrades to the U2You online customer portal that is accessible by Copperas Cove utility customers. 
Newsom said letters will be going out to account holders starting next week about the upgrades and changes to the site. One of the features for upgraded leak detection is for two types of leaks, continuous flow and burst leaks that are over 73 gallons every hour for eight hours.
“It’s a good way to help customers to be more aware of what’s happening with their usage in real time,” Newsom said. She added that the alert is sent directly to the customer via email, if there is an email address on file for them. 
Councilman Charlie Youngs asked how customers without email addresses could be notified, and Newsom said a letter will be generated automatically and sent to the customer.
Among the comments from city council members was one by place 6 councilman Marc Payne, who discussed the leak detection feature and if there was a way that the detection feature would be automatic for customers. 
“It seems to make sense that when you have someone with a new account, you can sign them up. And if someone doesn’t want to be alerted, they can say no,” Payne said. “I think it’s a disservice not to sign somebody up.”
A little later, during citizens’ forum in the regular council meeting, several residents spoke out against FATHOM and the practice of disconnecting the water, particularly on a Friday, leaving customers without water over a weekend. 
“There are major issues with the FATHOM contract and issues with FATHOM. One of the primary ones I see on a daily basis, people posting about getting their water shut off by FATHOM, people posting, showing that their bills have been paid to FATHOM prior to their shut-offs,” said John Rose. He was also concerned with the cost of the water usage for citizens, especially during the winter months when he said his water was almost double his electric bill. Rose, a 100 percent disabled veteran, questioned why his payment dates constantly moved.
Theresa Deans also spoke out and asked for the council to listen. 
“I beseech you to sit down and listen to what the citizens of Copperas Cove have to say about FATHOM, the illegal practices, the inconsistencies in the billing, the inconsistencies in the floating due dates, and their illegal practice of disconnecting water, particularly on a Friday, facing triple-digit weekend with no recourse to get the water reconnected until Monday,” Deans said. “Is it going to take a serious medical crisis or a death of an elderly person or a disabled person from lack of water before we get the attention of the city council?”
At a prior Copperas Cove city council meeting, place 1 councilman David Morris called for an outside audit of the city’s utility accounts, to which other members of the council concurred. The audit hasn’t occurred yet, but on Tuesday, interim city manager Ryan Haverlah told the council that the data has been gathered for the audit of the utility customer accounts, and a figure for the cost of the audit would be brought back to the council. 

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