Wichita Family Disputes $700 Water Bill

By: Lily Wu - Email
By: Lily Wu - Email

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Friday, September 28, 2012

A Wichita family believe there is a mistake with a water bill claiming they used 85,500 gallons of water in August.

"85,000 gallons on our lawn would probably be equivalent to a swimming pool or two," said Cynthia Morin, who received the high water bill.

In July, Morin moved with her husband and two children to a house in Southeast Wichita. Morin said she and her husband work long shifts at work.

"No one's ever really home enough to go ahead and use too much water," she said.

From June 27 to July 24, the family used 14,250 gallons of water. From July 24 to August 23, the bill showed that the family of four used 85,500 gallons of water.

"We were very stressed about it. We kept looking for a leak. We were more cautious about not using any water 'cause we were like, 'If it's leaking, what's going to happen on the next bill?'"

The family found no leaks. The city also found no leaks.

"It's been our experience that we have seen people that have run up very big bills and been very surprised that their toilet's leaking. Sometimes what they'll do is they'll look at the back and see that the equipment in the back of the toilet is old and they'll replace it and they don't have any problems like that again," said Alan King, director of Public Works and Utilities for Wichita.

The family said they had not seen toilet leaks at the house.

"We're both educated people. We would know if our toilet was leaking," Morin said.

The family's latest water bill showed usage from August 23 to September 24 of 18,750 gallons of water.

"I don't know if my toilet has a mind of its own and decides, 'I'm going to leak for 30 days and leak out 85,000 gallons and then I'm going to stop and go back to my normal consumption,'" she said.

The City has adjusted the family's $669.76 bill down to $199.58.

"We checked the meter, the physical part of the meter that doesn't depend on electronics and technology. That water did go through that meter," said King. "[It] could've gone through a leaking toilet or something like that."

Their meter is currently being tested by the City, but the family is not happy with the way the situation was handled.

"I'm beyond frustrated because you're blowing me off. You're saying, 'Here's a courtesy adjustment,'" Morin said. "You're not fixing the problem nor do you care to fix the problem. So, what happens the next time this happens?"

The City left a message at the residence saying that the water meter is getting tested.

The City provided estimates on toilet leaks. They estimate that 4,320 to 4,800 gallons of water can leak per day.

If you have questions on your water bill in Wichita, call (316) 265-1300.

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