South Louisiana Woman Fighting $7,000 Water Bill
Almost all of us dread that monthly envelope that arrives in our mailboxes from our local utility company. Most of the time, it's the power bill that sends chills up our spine, especially when the temperatures have either been really hot or really cold. And to be quite honest, I don't think I have ever come unglued over a water bill. But then again I didn't get a water bill like the one Keisha LaFosse of Elton received.
LaFosse's most recent bill for water services to her home in Elton, Louisiana was in excess of $7,000. The numbers on the bill suggested she used more than one million gallons of water. The bill was actually an 18-day bill so that made the extreme amounts listed for usage and payment even harder to believe.
Just for reference's sake, the average American home uses about 300 gallons of water per day. That would include water for bathing, washing dishes and clothes, consumption and cooking, and various other uses. The average water bill for a typical family of four in the United States is about $73 dollars.
So, why was Keisha LaFosse's bill so high?
If you guessed there was a leak involved, you are right on the money and in this case a lot of money. But, who is responsible for the water that "leaks out of the system"? Apparently, in this case, it is LaFosse. According to a story on KPLC television, a leak was discovered on "LaFosse's side of the meter". When the leak is on the "customer's side of the meter" it's usually the customer's responsibility to pay not only for the repair but for the water used.
But circumstances, in this case, could be considered to be not so cut and dried. LaFosse maintains that the meter is on city property about half a mile from her home. According to the KPLC report, LaFosse was not aware that there was a leak at all. However, once it was brought to her attention, she had it repaired.
Now, if you've ever experienced a water leak that you're responsible for you almost always have to pay. In fact, there are several rulings by the Attorney General that make it illegal for a town to forgive a high water bill. I know in my case, when we had a leak, our utility was able to give us a break on wastewater charges but we still were responsible for the water that was "used".
LaFosse might find herself in a similar situation and perhaps the best outcome for her might be a structured payment plan. Meanwhile, the Elton City Council has agreed to hear information about LaFosse's plight and her $7,000 water bill at their next scheduled meeting on March 1st.
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