High Water Bill Costs Woman Hundreds More Than Normal - NBC 6 South Florida
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High Water Bill Costs Woman Hundreds More Than Normal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Miami-Dade County woman is shocked by a water/sewer bill that costs 10 times more than usual. She called NBC 6 Responds to get answers.

    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017)

    Carol Eves and her family are on a tight budget.

    "We're living paycheck to paycheck and it's kind of tough," she said.

    Eves moved into a home in Miami-Dade county with her daughter and grandchildren, after her daughter's husband died of cancer.

    "We got this place so we could all be able to support each other," she said.

    According to Eves, the family paid about $60 every three months for water and sewer service. But then in May 2016, her water bill shot up to $706 - more than 10 times her average.

    "It could not be right," Eves said she thought. "There's no way possible it could be right."

    The bill said Eves' family used 53,856 gallons of water - enough to fill a round, 21-foot swimming pool nearly 4 times.

    "That's a lot of water," she said.

    Her landlord hired a plumber, who she says found no leaks. When she called the water department, they checked her meter.

    "They said the meter's working fine and they said I would have to pay the bill," she said.

    That's when she called NBC 6 Responds.

    "I'm just needing an answer, somebody to tell me, 'yes it's right,'" she told us.

    NBC 6 Responds found Eves' was one of 13,551 inquiries made about high water bills in Miami-Dade County in just over a year.

    "People call about, 'Hey, my water bill is too high. What is going on?'," Lester Sola, director for Miami-Dade Water and Sewer, said.

    According to the water department, only a small percentage of the bills they issue are questioned for being too high. Director Sola said it's one reason why they offer customers several types of credits on their bills for everything from re-filling a pool to finding an underground leak.

    "During the last two years, we've issued over 4,000 credits to the total of approximately $4 million," Sola said.

    There's even a one-time lifetime credit that they describe as a last resort for unexplained high bills that Sola calls a safety net.

    It's also the toughest credit to get.

    NBC 6 Responds found that the department issued more than 3,800 credits in the following 4 categories: outlet, certified meter test, vandalism and underground leaks. But in that same period, the department issued only 40 one-time lifetime credits.

    "Those individuals have to meet a condition," Sola explained when asked why the one-time credit wasn't issued as often as the others. "Oftentimes, the leaks that don't qualify are in fact when there's a running toilet or someone left the water on."

    Eves was told she didn't qualify for any credits and made a payment plan to pay the full bill. Her next bill returned to normal, even though she said she didn't make any repairs or change any habits.

    To learn more about the different bill adjustments Miami-Dade Water and Sewer offers to customers dealing with high water bills, click here.