The Escondido Utility Billing Department thinks Margaret Kreusser, a single woman who typically uses 150 gallons of water a day where she lives, consumed 580 times that much between December and January and sent her a bill for $16,000.
She refused to pay it.
Kreusser told NBC San Diego she doesn’t know why the meter registered the astronomical numbers, but the bogus bill is not her responsibility. She said utility workers told her she probably had a leak and the water seeped into the ground.
To average 87,000 gallons a day, Kreusser’s pipes would have to leak the equivalent of an Olympic size swimming pool under her property every seven days. Someone probably would have notice the resulting sinkhole.
When the utility replaced the meter, which had been spinning wildly, and some pipes connected to it, the usage returned to normal. But the $16,000 bill remained.
When Kreusser protested, the utility offered to cut the bill in half. Instead of paying, she sued the city for $300,000.
It’s possible the utility thinks Kreusser is getting off cheap. Kenny Price of Atlanta, who was used to paying between $70 and $80 a month for water, received a three-month bill for $62,823.81 last year. The Atlanta utility said he was using 1.2 million gallons of water and a local television station filmed his meter spinning wildly and recording the presumed gusher. But his property, like Kreusser’s, was surprisingly dry.