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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities audit revealed malfunctioning equipment could have caused water bills for 68,000 Mecklenburg County households to be too high or low.

CMUD Director Barry Gullet told Newschannel 36 the part manufacturer, Itron, will cover the $3 to $5 million estimated costs to replace the faulty transmitters as part of settlement. CMUD noted that is beyond what the initial warranty required.

Gullet said although less than 10 percent of customers currently using the defective transmitters have experienced issues with water bills, it was important to stop the problem before it started.

This project will proactively replace those 68,000 transmitters. We will issue a credit on their water bill or refund, said Gullet.

This type of action from CMUD is very different from what Cornelius resident Jim Duke said he dealt with two years ago.

Their initial attitude was there is nothing wrong with our equipment, there is nothing wrong with our system- you just waste water, recalled Duke about the way he and his neighbors were treated when they brought water bill discrepancies to CMUD in 2009.

Two years later, Duke said he's pleased to see the way the department is handling this latest issue.

Gullet said the transmitter issue is unrelated to the water bill issues experienced in Cornelius and claimed most of those complaints have since been resolved. However, he did admit the reason behind the audit was a direct result of the quality control plan started after the North Mecklenburg water issues came to light.

The 68,000 households affected by the potentially defective Intron transmitter will receive a letter explaining the course of action over the next four months. Customers charged for less than the actual amount of water used will not be required to pay to difference.

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