Woman disputes $1,800 Houston water bill for 88,000 gallons of water usage

By Leigh Frillici - Reporter

HOUSTON - A woman claims her monthly bill skyrocketed from just $25 to more than $1,800. Her water meter read that she used 88,000 gallons of water in just one month -- something she says just isn't possible.   

Monica Napier just received her latest water bill from the City of Houston.

She was billed $1,830.48 for the usage of 88,000 gallons of water.  She has not paid the bill because she has been fighting it, so fines are included.

“No one in their right mind uses that much water,” said Napier, of northeast Houston.

Thursday's bill notified Napier that her water could be shut off in two weeks if her bill isn't paid. 

Napier says she and her husband don't use a lot of water

“I don't have a dishwasher,” Napier said. “I have no dryer. I don't have a fancy pool outside.”

Her average bill runs about $25 for 2,000 gallons of water. She says someone ran over her meter back in February, breaking it and causing a leak on her side of the property -- a leak which brought a $200 bill in April. She paid it then.

Then came the 88,000-gallon usage billed from June. She asked for a meter check in July.

“They said the gentleman came out (and) there was nothing wrong with the meter,” said Napier.

The water company disagrees, saying they didn't know about the broken meter until July.  It was fixed in August resulting in a bill for 88,000 gallons of water.

“This is ridiculous,” Napier said.

Napier’s next-door neighbor wants her meter checked, too. Her most recent bill is more than $2,600.

Tanyarika Walker says the high bill is for what appears to be two spikes in usage - in April and June, just like her next-door neighbor’s bill. 

Walker says two adults and four children live in the home. Their bill is usually under $200 a month, but their bill keeps soaring with fines for not paying it as they try to sort out what’s going on.

Her bill says her water may be cut off in two weeks if she does not start paying her bill.

“I couldn't believe it,” Walker said. “That's too much water. I don't even have a mansion to have this bill.”

A spokesperson for the City of Houston’s Public Works said the city agrees that the bills are high.

The water department says a technician noted there are still leaks on the resident’s side of the property that need to be fixed by the landlord.

In the meantime, the water department will look into the bills. They asked that the residents fill out the Unusually Large Bill Application and the Leak Adjustment Request forms in order to get the process rolling.

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