Print $1,900 H2O bill shocks
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 13:56

Blendena Carter opened her mailbox earlier this month to a shock that hit her in the face like a cold splash of water. Nearly $1,900 worth of water. Carter’s bill from the Camp Verde Water System for December was for $1,878.67.

Water can be expensive in the West, but it’s quite a jump for a woman whose bill the month before was a reasonable $33.99.

Carter was charged for using 314,800 gallons of water in one month at her modest home on Verde West Drive. That’s enough to fill 18 average swimming pools, 13 firefighting Boeing 747s or one really big bathtub. It wasn’t a mistake, said Stan Bullard, water company vice president.

Just to be sure, Carter’s meter was sent to the Arizona Corporation Commission Utilities Division for testing, where it was found to be in perfect working order. In the 13 days between the end of the billing period and the test, it read that Carter had used an additional 38,000 gallons of water.

A new meter was installed and seems to be reading more normal levels, Bullard said, around 800 gallons since the installation.

Carter said that she had a tiny leak in her yard that had been fixed by a family member, but that there was no way she could believe it had spilled out nearly 315,000 gallons over the course of a month without her noticing.
Bullard speculated that it’s possible some may have drained into a well near Carter’s property, or perhaps a frozen pipe could have been the culprit.

Either way, Bullard said it’s important to stay on top of potential problems on your property.

Regardless of where the water did or didn’t go, it doesn’t matter to Carter. Bullard said the water company has no way to offset the cost of the water, and Carter is still responsible for paying the bill.

The best the water company can do is offer Carter six months to pay the money. If she doesn’t come through with making an arrangement to somehow pay her bill, Carter’s water was expected to be shut off, possibly as early as this week.

As a senior citizen living off a fixed income from Social Security checks, her bill might as well be $100,000.

“I just can’t afford it, either now or over six months,” Carter said.

She may not be entirely out of options, said Deb Regan, who works for the Arizona Corporation’s Utilities department.

Regan said that the commission was aware of Carter’s situation, and would be working with Carter and the water company to see if Carter has any options available to her