San Benito Family Shocked with Overcharged Water Bill

5 years 4 weeks 22 hours ago Thursday, November 02 2017 Nov 2, 2017 November 02, 2017 6:55 PM November 02, 2017 in News

SAN BENITO – A Rio Grande Valley family went from a routine bill cycle of nearly $50 to one of over $600.

San Benito resident Guadalupe Villanueva was told her family’s monthly consumption of 2,070 gallons of water a month, rose to 105,610 gallons of water.

She said she was floored when she read the billing statement.

"I’m like what the hell happened? You know? Where did this bill come from? Is it right? Is it mine? I thought it was somebody else's,” she told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Villanueva contacted the city of San Benito. A crew went several times to her property to check the grounds and read the meter.

According to their test, everything was normal on their end. No faulty meters or leaking pipes.

However, the city claims the flap on the toilet in the apartment was loose and allowed water to run continuously. It puts the fault on the tenants meaning they're stuck paying the bill. 

We showed Dean Farrell with Farrell Plumbing and Cooling the difference in water consumption. He’s not convinced with the city’s theory.

“It makes me think that it's not just a leaking toilet, it’s not something that's just very small like that,” he said. “It has to be something much bigger, a broken water line in the yard. I don't have an explanation why they would be losing that much water and not just see water somewhere, pooling up out of the ground, coming out from under a wall or something.”

The city said the family will likely face another higher bill next month. 

In the housing contract the Villanueva’s signed, they are responsible for loss in water and maintenance.

The city said they're willing to set up a payment plan for the family. If the family doesn’t pay though, they could face eviction and more fines.

Fred Bell, the assistant city manager who investigated the matter extended Villanueva a credit of $99 and the opportunity to pay the water bill over several months.

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