NAPLES, Fla. — $2,000 in water bills are piling up against an 84-year-old man in Naples. George Foster, says he hasn't had any running water in his home since 2017, and he claims the city turned it off. Foster, who's lived in Naples since the 1950s, says he's never faced a problem like this before.
He tells Fox 4 he uses water jugs from the nearest grocery store to wash dishes, showers at a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, and uses rainwater to wash his car.
Foster explains it all started in 2017 shortly after Hurricane Irma, he says he always paid his water bill in cash.
"I never had a problem, until that last night during the storm, he (city worker) put $200 more on the bill, and I said 'what is this? I’m not using that kind of water,'" Foster said.
He says he paid the $200 that one time, but then it happened again. He says his bill went from $178 to nearly $570, in 3 months, the county claiming he used 35,000 gallons of water. Foster says during that time he was also dealing with the death of his girlfriend.
"It took everything I had to put her away, to put her away nice, that's all I was concerned about, " Foster said.
The money the city says he owed kept piling up until it reached $2,100, all the while, Foster was living without water. Foster says he’s tried to talk to city officials several times, and his neighbor has called to try to help him.
"I don’t owe them that money they added it on but I don’t owe it," Foster said.
Fox 4 went to talk with the city of Naples to figure out what exactly is going on. The city says Foster hasn’t been in to sign documents saying he will set up a payment plan.
"In this case, if the gentleman called us, we certainly make our payment arrangements for him but he physically has to be the one that calls us," said Naples Bill Collections Manager, Lisa Douglass.
The city sent Fox 4 a sample of what they say they could potentially do for him. They say if a $200 payment was received today they would turn his water on, and remove $500 of late fees.
"We’re not evil people, we understand things happen, but I can’t force this guy to come in," said Douglass.
In the meantime, Foster's neighbor set up a page to help Foster pay for the cost of his bills. Here's the link if you would like to help him: