Donna Woman Unable to Pay High Water Bill

Posted: Updated: Dec 02, 2016 08:20 PM

DONNA – A Donna family is struggling to keep water service in their homes. Their bills have gone up and they don’t know why.

The family owes hundreds of dollars to the city’s utilities department. They said if the high bills stay high, they won’t be able to pay.

“In this house, I had a bill for $971 in one month and you can see we don’t have a yard that we are watering. We don’t have kids. It’s just my husband and me. We don’t have a swimming pool to pay $1,000. It’s a lot,” Maria Martinez said.

On top of her recent near $1,000 water bill, her elderly mother’s bills have also skyrocketed. She owes more than $400 a month.

“With her check, she cannot pay her water and electricity bill,” she said.

Martinez said her mother’s water service was shut off Wednesday morning.

“My mom is sick. My mom pays for a lot of medication. She’s a cancer patient, so she doesn’t have money to pay those high water bills,” she said.

Martinez went to the city. The bill couldn’t be reduced. She paid $150 to get service turned back on.

The interim assistant city manager said both meters work fine. He said the city will help troubleshoot to find a possible leak on any customer’s property, but if nothing is found they’ll just have to set up a payment plan.

“Today I pay $150 and I have three more payments of $57 as a payment arrangement. On December 12, I need to do another payment, plus the bill that’s come for December,” Martinez said.

The city said they replaced the meter at Martinez’s mother’s home even though it was working okay. They said they haven’t received many other recent complaints about high bills.

“I want for the city to charge what is normal because month after month, I’m having high payments,” she said.

Martinez hopes something can be done so she can afford to pay her bills and take care of her mother.

There is no word yet when the change will happen.

The city added customers can also submit a complaint to the city council about their bills.

All Donna residents will soon see a change to their water system though. The city recently approved the purchase of smart water meters.

The meter can be read electronically. The purchase will cost the city $1.3 million.