North Carolina elderly couple billed for more than 68,000 gallons of water, despite being out of town


DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN/News Nation) — A North Carolina couple is disputing a nearly $1,000 water bill on a house they weren’t even living in.

The elderly couple from North Carolina was billed nearly $1,000 after the City of Durham said they used 68,000 gallons of water for the month of April.

 Leonard and Nancy Watkins were out of town for several months, when they received a bill for $955 from the Durham Department of Water Management. It said 68,150 gallons of water had been used at their home.

The couple’s bills are typically between $15 and $20 when they are not home, Nancy said.

“I said ‘there’s got to be something wrong with this bill,’” Nancy said.

City officials told Nancy and Leonard to check for a leak.

After looking for leaks both inside and outside their home, Nancy said there was no sign that 68,000 gallons of water came from the house.

For perspective, a household pool measuring 20 feet by 40 feet contains 30,000 gallons of water, if it has a depth of 5 feet.

For the month of May, their bill dropped down to $15.

“It’s just inconceivable that this kind of bill could be sent out,” Nancy said.

News Nation Affiliate CBS 17 reached out to the City of Durham’s Department of Water Management to get answers.

A city spokesperson said its records do not show any error in billing.

However, the city said it’s still investigating.

If the city does find it made a mistake, a city spokesperson said, it will adjust the Watkins’ water bill.

Nancy said they are hoping they will not be forced to pay this high bill.

“I just hope that we can get it straightened out,” she said. “We’re retired, so we don’t have a lot of expendable cash.”

City officials also said there had not been any other recent complaints from water customers about high bills.

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