Houston man fights $9,000 water bill

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by Jeremy Desel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on October 1, 2012 at 7:48 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 1 at 8:00 PM

HOUSTON -- A south Houston man is fighting city hall over a massive water bill of more than $9,000 for one month.

The leak didn't get Jose Valera's attention.

"I did not see no water. Just that little bit of bubbling," he said.

So Vallera called the city and a plumber and got it fixed within a day of when he noticed it.

It was the bill that came a few days later that really got his attention.

"I said man this must be a mistake," he said.

A bill for 719,000 gallons. The total due was $9,087.98 for one month.

Valera says he's never used more than 3,000 in a month. That is on average about $25.  His January bill was just 3,000 gallons.

The latest bill is the total water he would normally use in 20 years.

It is also enough to fill nearly 18,000 bathtubs, or an Olympic sized pool, with another 150,000 gallons to spare.

The city turned off the water on Feb. 3rd, and a plumber fixed the pipe, leaving just four weeks for all that leaking to have happened.

It is a one-inch water pipe that runs to Valera's house and in order for the city’s number to be true the pipe would have to be completely severed and running at more than 18 gallons per minute.

The pipe that the plumber replaced has a leak that is barely visible, the pipe is not severely damaged.

Valera said there was never a drop in pressure inside the house and he won’t stop fighting despite threats from the city to shut off his water.

 "If they show me the water then I might believe it. But how am I going to pay for something that I don't even see?" he said.

The city and Valera have a hearing in district court later this month.

 

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