HOUSTON, TX – When it rains, it pours. Patricia Cluiss knows that all too well. In December she was hit with a $1,400 water bill.
“We’ve never received such an astronomical water bill,” she says.
Odds are, you haven’t either. So Patricia did what anyone would do: she called the city and asked officials to look into it. They did. But the answer wasn’t what she was hoping for.
“The conclusion of the investigation was that they said that the issue was on our part.”
80,000-gallons of water, the city says, consumed in a little more than a month. That’s enough to fill three swimming pools. Patricia wasn’t buying it. So she hired a plumber to search her home for leaks. $67 later the plumber determined there were no leaks.
“So we got in contact again with the mayor’s liaison and also with the official at public works,’ she explains, ‘and they said that we need to play Sherlock and that their conclusion was that the issue was on our side and not on their side.”
But what really caught Patricia’s eye was the construction work going on in her neighborhood. City workers going house to house digging up water meters and working on the lines. What’s more, the old-fashioned meter-reader in her neighborhood has been replaced with an electronic system that transmits hourly meter-readings directly to the city. It’s the same type of system that forced the city of Atlanta to refund hundreds of thousands of dollars to customers who were overcharged for water usage in 2010.
Whether that’s the problem with Patricia’s bill is still up for grabs.
“No one’s really helping us to determine if that’s even a possibility.”
After repeated appeals to the city, the only response she’s gotten is a payment plan to help pay-off her astronomical bill.