7 On Your Side: 239,000 Gallon Water Bill Dispute - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

2/13/08-Flint

7 On Your Side: 239,000 Gallon Water Bill Dispute

Willie Dawson moved into their 2000 plus square foot home with his family of four just a few months ago.

When his second water bill from Southern Utilities showed up Willie response, "My wife actually called me at work and said are you sitting down?"

Dawson was being billed for using 239,000 gallons of water for a whopping $610.

"So when I actually called the company and they told me it was 600 dollars then I did collapse," says Dawson.

What would someone have to do to use that much water in 30-days?

They would have to flush the toilet more 1,300 times per day.  Or the washing machine which uses 41 gallons per load.  That means nearly 200 loads of laundry were washed per day.

Take the swimming pool which holds 25,000 gallons.  It would have had to be filled more than nine times that month.

Sounds crazy?? It does to Mr. Dawson who says he's done none of the aforementioned activities.

"Once I started questioning him that there's no way 239,000 gallons could have went through then his whole attitude changed, he was like you used the water you're paying the bill," says Dawson.

The "he" Dawson is referring to is the vice president and general manager of Southern Utilities, Michael Farrell.  He declined to speak with us about the case on-camera citing "legal issues."

Although Farrell didn't have an explanation for where all this water went, he says it's not uncommon for residential customers to receive bills this large.  In fact, he says he sees residential bills this large every month!

"We escalated to a point further down the line where he said dig a well or pay the bill, just like that," says Mr. Dawson.

Dawson went as far hiring a local plumbing company to see if there was a leak on his property. In the plumber's report, none was found.

But this is long from water under the bridge for this Southern Utilities customer who intends on taking his case to court.

After the 239,000 gallon reading, Southern Utilities replaced Willie Dawson's meter.

They say the old meter was working fine.  But when 7 On Your Side asked when the last time the meter was replaced before then, Southern Utilities did not have an answer.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

 

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