Couple's soaring water bill is 'insane' : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

I have some more interesting articles to follow on our utility nightmares in oklahoma friends....Here's one

Couple's soaring water bill is `insane'

By RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer 2/21/01 Lisa Haynes says she was flabbergasted by her water bill, which shows her family used enough water to fill five swimming pools. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World

BIXBY -- A Bixby couple are drowning in disbelief over a utility bill that has them using more than 500,000 gallons of water since October.

Lisa and James Haynes owe the Bixby Public Works Authority $1,907 and some change, documents show.

And the town owes them an explanation, Lisa Haynes said.

"I don't really have an `I'm mad' attitude," said Lisa Haynes, 37, noting that the house has been checked for leaks. "I have a logical attitude. This is insane. You can tell it's insane."

The couple lease a five-bedroom farmhouse house built in 1904, she said. Three of their children live full-time in the house, which has only one toilet and a total of three sinks, she said.

According to their bill, the Haynes family used 308,800 gallons of water from Oct. 5 to Nov. 6, and 234,200 gallons from Nov. 6 to Dec. 6, running up a bill that, with surcharges, totaled $1,884.26.

That's enough water (543,000 gallons) to fill roughly five Olympic- sized swimming pools, said Joyce Hester, manager of Dolphin Pools in Owasso.

"Every person you talk to about it, they say it's the craziest thing they've ever heard," Lisa Haynes said.

Typically, the couple's water bill ranges from $35 to $50, she said. Their latest bill, for usage Dec. 6 to Jan. 11, was $20.96 for 4,500 gallons, making their outstanding utility bill, after surcharges, $1,907.12.

One of the couple's children was told by a meter reader in December that the residence had a water leak, Lisa Haynes said. She later was told by the public works de partment that the house wasn't leaking water, she said.

She did receive a cutoff notice, but the utility hasn't acted on it. Bixby City Manager Micky Webb offered her a $700 adjustment on her bill, if she would install a toilet repair kit. She refused, saying nothing was wrong with the commode.

"My dad is an engineer for the city of Tulsa," Lisa Haynes said. "He said if I had a fire hydrant in middle of my yard and turned it on full force, I might could come up with 250,000 gallons in a month."

Webb said he sympathized with the Haynes family but added, "It (water) went through the meter. We are working to try to get an explanation."

Webb indicated the problem might be traced to the construction of an elementary school nearby. But Mary Jane Bias, Bixby school superintendent, said the new school has its own water service, noting "I don't know how that (the school's close proximity) would have an impact on her bill."

Workers changed the water meter at the couple's residence Friday, Lisa Haynes said. The couple have consulted a lawyer, who advised them to send a good-faith payment to the utility until the problem is resolved.

Dolly Scott, a schoolteacher, said she owns a small house in Bixby in which her 63-year-old mother resides. Scott recently was floored by a water bill that had skyrocketed to $600 (202,000 gallons), up from its $20 average, she said.

Scott said her new water meter, which has a leak indicator, indicates no problem. She was told her old meter tested fine.

Scott said city leaders offered to adjust her bill if she showed a receipt for a leaky commode. She said her mother's toilet wasn't faulty.

"They said we cannot arbitrari ly change a bill," Scott said. "I said this isn't arbitrary. These are facts. We would see 202,000 gallons of water. It's ridiculous."

Scott said she was denied a waiver of the exorbitant bill.

"I'd love for nothing better than that when people have these outrageous bills, we could waive them." Webb said. "But if you do that, it opens up Pandora's box. We can't do that."

Rhett Morgan, World staff writer, can be reached at 581-8395 or via e-mail at

-- Tess (, February 21, 2001


Y2K. If the water company's computer(s) are not fully compliant, these people are probably being charged for water usage for "100 years".

-- Frank W. Tobia (, February 22, 2001.

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