An elderly woman who lives in the Spanish Lakes community of Port St. Lucie was hit with a water bill nearly 50 times higher than usual.
For the last quarter, a bill said the woman used 190,000 gallons of water in three months.
Her bill amounted to more than $3,600. Her bill before that? Just about $79.
“Very frustrating… it’s a stupid bill,” Rambo said.
The 89-year-old woman is recovering from a fall in an area rehabilitation center. She’s worried her water will be shut off when she returns home.
For now, she is refusing to pay the bill.
“You mean to tell me that I went from $79 to $3,699 and you didn’t even warn me?”
She says she doesn’t have any leaking faucets or toilets. Her meter has been checked by Spanish Lakes Utility and was found to be working properly.
She’s on a fixed income and doesn’t know where she would come up with the money.
She sent a letter to Spanish Lakes Utility representatives, expressing her concern over the bill.
She says she lives alone, takes one shower a day and does laundry about once a week. Her water usage would not exceed the more than 2,000 gallons a day that her bill said she used.
That usage would be similar to that of a hotel.
She says her children also checked her property for any leaking water hoses or signs of a leak under the foundation. Everything on her small lot seemed fine. “You’re not going to hide 190,000 gallons of water if they say it’s there. It would flood the house,” Rambo said.
The utility company responded to her letter, giving her a near $1,300 credit as a “goodwill” gesture in case there was a sewer problem.
The company has also issued her a payment plan, which she says would still charge her about $400 a month. “I don’t want a payment plan. I don’t think it’s a just charge.”
The utility company also said it’s not their responsibility to figure out the cause of the leak.
“He says if you don’t pay, who does?”
Rambo wishes she had been given a warning earlier on in her billing cycle that her water usage was excessive. Now, she is closely watching the water meter at her home and says for the next billing cycle, she is on track.
Rambo has sent in one check for the amount she used in the previous billing cycle.
She says other neighbors have experienced higher than normal bills. She is considering consulting a lawyer.