An Atlanta homeowner, Blayne Beacham, opened up her monthly water bill only to find she was being charged $9,224.40 for supposed water usage in her three-bedroom cottage.
Beacham lives alone and said she does not believe she uses that much water, especially since the charge was far out of line with her previous water bills. Two years ago, it was just $28, reported WSBTV.
I don't do any outside watering. You know, five showers a week, two loads of laundry, one dishwasher run -- it's not $9,000 worth of water, said Beacham.
But this has been a recurring and worsening problem. It started last July when her water bill was $497 from the city Department of Watershed Management.
I assumed I had a leak, so I got a handyman to come out and check everything, said Beacham, She said that she appealed that bill, which cost her an extra $100, reported the Atlantic Journal Constitution. They turned down my appeal.
The agency then checked her water meter and found there was nothing wrong with it. By December, Beacham's bill was $756.
We called the water department and worked out an agreement where I would pay them $120 a month until I could get a court date to again appeal, she said.
But the agency still found nothing wrong with the meter.
In April, her bill shot up again to $1,155, plus $1,430 in late charges. She hired a plumber, who said there was no leak and appeared to be nothing wrong with the pipes. Beacham then hired a lawyer in an attempt to appeal the bill.
The agency installed a device that would check her usage on the meter, but they also told me that I needed to get an additional 'leak detection specialist' to come to my house and make sure there was no leak, she said.
Her May bill was $175, which was still fairly high. She asked the agency again if they knew what the problem was, but they reportedly told her that they decided she had a leak that she fixed.
This is absolutely absurd. I have no way of proving I did not get a leak fixed, because I did not have a leak. I expressed my frustration and asked if I could please just get a new meter, she said, according to the AJC. They did not want to give her a new meter.
Then, in June she opened her bill for the shock of her life.
I opened my mailbox and got a bill for $9,224.40 -- $2,638.68 worth of past charges, and $6,705.72 worth of new charges, Beacham said. The thing that is so frustrating is that if I had a leak, and if I had gotten it fixed, how would my bill be this high? she asked.
She was informed, however, that her bill would be readjusted to $900. She rejected that offer. Watershed eventually showed up with a new meter, as she had long demanded.
I'm obviously happy to have the new meter, but it just seems ridiculous that you have to go to such great lengths to bring such scrutiny to the problem when there are so many people around Atlanta who are having high water bills who call and they can't get any attention, she said, NBC reported. I fought this for a year to get this. I probably spent 50 hours working on this problem trying to get a new meter and you should be able to call the department, get a new meter and they should accept some of the blame.
She said that although there is still a problem, she is happy with the new meter and will continue her discussions with Watershed.