Atlanta woman hit with $17,000 water bill despite no leaks

ATLANTA — The City of Atlanta said a homeowner is responsible for paying a water bill of more than $17,000 even though a plumber found no problems or leaks on her property.

She reached out to Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray after her case was denied by the city’s appeals board.

If you have a leak or a plumbing problem that has caused a high water bill and show proof a plumber fixed it, you can typically get your bill adjusted.

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But in this case, the city won’t adjust the bill as there’s no repair to be made because there’s no leak or other issues.

“The water board employee asked me if I had a pool,” Elizabeth Atkins said.

But she doesn’t have a pool.

Atkins lives alone in a northwest Atlanta townhouse, but her water usage was that of someone who was regularly emptying and refilling a swimming pool.

“I found out that I had an outstanding balance of almost $17,000,” Atkins said.

She said when she bought the home, she thought the homeowner’s association paid the bill.

It wasn’t until she got a water shutoff notice that she realized she hadn’t been paying the bill and that’s when she discovered the massive alleged delinquent water bill.

“I had the plumbers out immediately and they found no issues. (The) water meter was working correctly,” Atkins said.


Because she did not find anything wrong or anything to fix, city officials said they could not adjust her bill.

“Common sense would tell you that you didn’t use all that water,” Gray said.

“Yeah,” Atkins responded. “Now my water bill is $30 a month.”

The city said she is responsible for the water use, even though Atkins believes the only explanation is a meter or record-keeping mistake.

“It just doesn’t seem to add up. But because I don’t have proof of anything going wrong or being wrong. And I got my hands tied,” Atkins said.

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An Atlanta Department of Watershed Management spokesperson told Channel 2 Action News in a statement:

“Results from an investigation confirmed the water meter was functioning properly with no issues and no billing errors were identified. Similarly, no DWM nor customer repairs were completed during the period.”

Atkins already had to pay $4,200 just so her water would stay on.

She is now challenging the bill in Superior Court after the appeals board found there was “no basis to adjust the bill.”


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