We never want to see come back: Water bill drama

While we're still finding out just how messed up the city's water billing system is, this much is certain: It needs to be fixed. Now. Residents are being charged too much and businesses still owe millions, according to reports in The Sun. Whatever the problem is, here's hoping it gets corrected and we never see the old system again. (Algerina Perna, The Baltimore Sun / September 10, 2012)

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has paid the majority of its $130,000 overdue water bill, city records show.

Jane Ballentine, a spokeswoman for the zoo, alerted The Sun to the payment this weekend.

"The checks have cleared, so we consider the water bill to be paid and our account current," she wrote in an email.

City records show the zoo paid about $124,000 of the bill, and owes about $6,000.

The zoo's overdue bill dated back to 2011 and officials said the non-profit, which receives funding from the state and city, had set up a payment plan with the city. Executive vice president Nancy Hinds said zoo officials first contacted City Hall over the winter about their spiking water bills and adjustments were made to the zoo's account.

Last month, The Sun revealed that a dozen area businesses, nonprofits and federal government organizations owe the city of Baltimore more than $10.5 million on water bills that are past due by at least six months. In some cases, the businesses haven't made any payments on their accounts in years. The long-overdue bills were among only 100 accounts included in The Sun's review. The city's water billing system has more than 410,000 customers.

The delinquent commercial bills come as the water system has been grappling to resolve problems identified in a city audit released this year. City officials acknowledged that they had overcharged 38,000 mostly residential customers by at least $4.2 million and issued refunds. The auditor has called for another $5 million in refunds.

Luke.Broadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater