Brownsville Resident Shocked by $750 Utility Bill

5 years 10 months 2 weeks ago Tuesday, July 11 2017 Jul 11, 2017 July 11, 2017 6:15 PM July 11, 2017 in News - 5 On Your Side

BROWNSVILLE – A Cameron County woman wants to know why she has to pay for water she did not use.

Brownsville resident Norma Cortez said her average monthly utility bill is around $100. She said she has not missed a payment for more than four years.

Cortez said she rents a home on a fixed budget.  She said she was surprised when she received a bill for $750.

"There was no puddles, no nothing. No leaks inside the house nowhere," she said. 

Cortez said she turned off the water in her home and called the Brownsville Public Utilities Board. A BPUB worker showed up to take a look at her water meter and noticed a problem. 

"When the gentleman came to close it, he closed it and said, 'Wait a minute ma'am. There's a problem with his meter. It's not working correctly,'" she explained. 

She said she’s looked into getting the problem fixed but has not heard back from BPUB.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS went to BPUB to get answers. Brownsville Public Utilities Board spokesperson Ryan Greenfield said water usage from the meter to the home is the responsibility of the homeowner.

He added Cortez can call a plumber to look at the problem. If a problem is documented, she can contact BPUB customer service to get the bill corrected.

"For instance, if a leak is in a pipe in their yard and that water was never going through our sewage collections system, then the homeowner would be charged the average water use before that would have occurred," he said.

Greenfield added the department could send someone to test Cortez's meter. If it is the problem, he said she can take the documentation given to her by the meter tester to BPUB customer service and they will charge her the rate for the corrected meter reading.

Cortez said her landlord already scheduled a plumber to look at the issue. She also said she booked someone with BPUB to test her meter by next week. 

If you think you have leaking pipes in your home, there is a test you can run. Greenfield said you should turn off all water running in your home immediately. If your water meter is still running, there is a strong chance it’s due to a leak. 

Greenfield recommends then calling a plumber to check out the problem to avoid wasting water or paying a high utility bill. 

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