By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) is reaching out to the hundreds of customers who received water bills that were tens of thousands of dollars higher than they were supposed to be.

More than 500 customers were sent erroneous inflated bills, and the department says most were for more than $50,000. This was caused by a problem with a software update.

The inflated bills were reportedly only sent to customers who had breached payment plans.

“That is ridiculous. That is down right ridiculous,” resident Edna Greer said. “$50,000, not that much water in the world, not even with Noah’s Ark.”

DPW has stopped sending out water bills until the problem is fixed.

The department said they caught the problem just two days after the situation occurred, and they are notifying everyone who will get a startling statement in the mail.

“When you have a computer error like this, there is a system upgrade, that happens, it’s unfortunate, we don’t like it, we are certainly sorry that it happened, but we caught it right away,” said DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher.

The Department of Public Works said it also made changes to its online platform so that customers could better understand their bills.

You can now track your water consumption from month to month, day to day, even down to the hour.

DPW also overhauled its meter reading system in 2016.

“This is not acceptable, and I am insisting we strengthen our billing safeguards,” said DPW Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E. “I have directed staff to send letters to all those customers affected by this error, and to make direct contact in every case possible.

In 2016, customers reported they received bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.

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