Locust Grove couple challenge water bill claiming they used 36,000 gallons of water in one month

Posted at 6:05 PM, Aug 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 19:05:31-04

LOCUST GROVE, Okla. - A couple in Mayes County are trying to challenge their most recent utility bill after claiming they were charged for thousands of gallons of water they didn't use.

Virginia Bayless and her husband said they were shocked when they received the water bill in July. It read that they owed more than $400 for using almost 36,000 gallons of water between May 18 and June 20.

Bayless said that's nearly seven times more than what her water usage was during the previous billing period.

A local car wash owner used the same amount, 36,000 gallons of water, in a month’s worth of business, so Bayless said, something obviously seemed incorrect.

Next, she and her husband checked their pipes for leaks and found nothing, so they called city hall.

"They came out and checked for leaks, and there were no leaks," Bayless said.

She claims city employees instead pointed to another possible source of the spike -- over-watering her plants.
"They blamed it on the flower bed," Bayless said.  

She disputes that claim because she said she only waters her small garden for 15 minutes every evening, which should not have much effect on her water usage.

She wondered if the major water line break that happened in June about a block from her house would have had an effect on their bill, but city officials said that was very unlikely.

As a last resort, the couple appealed their water bill, which the Locust Grove Public Works Authority addressed during its meeting in July.

The board agreed to lower the sewer rate on the bill, adjusting it from $206.64 to $174.30

"They said if the water went through the meter, you used it, period," Bayless said.

The couple, however, would have to pay the remainder of the bill in installments during the next three months.

"That's an extra hundred dollars a month for three months," she added. "If the flowers were the problem, I told my husband we could buy a lot of flowers for $450."

A city utility official said employees went back to review the readings at the couple's home several times, and they still contend the couple used that much water.

The official claimed people sometimes are unaware of how much water they use in a given month.