Tampa neighborhood hit by high water bills

Tampa neighborhood hit by high water bills (Image 1)

By Stacie Schaible

Residents who live in the Tampa neighborhood of Dana Shores have recently figured out they have something in common – unusually high water bills.

In many cases, the water bills are hundreds of dollars more than their past bills.

“We were at $41.40 the previous bill and we went to $854.47. Not what you want to see right before Christmas,” Dana Shores homeowner Jen Older said.

Homeowner Colleen Quinn-Adams, who also lives in Dana Shores, said: “We realized it was a community issue, not an individual household issue.''

Quinn-Adams started collecting copies of her neighbors' water bills. She found 17 neighbors who had received higher water bills at the end of 2010.

Quinn-Adams said she found “a $500 [bill] for a woman who lives alone; a $350 [bill] for a home that is vacant, that nobody's lived in since August,'' she said.

The neighbors say their water bills are usually under $100, but now they have doubled, tripled, and, in some cases, quadrupled. In one case, nearly a 5,000 percent increase from the previous bill.

The Tampa Water Department is investigating, but a spokesman says it may take a week to determine the accuracy of the bills.

Spokesman Eli Franco said the department did an investigation this morning and found that one Dana Shores customer “potentially has some leaks inside their house, which we were able to point out to them by the spinning of the meter.''

“We found some broken sprinkler heads, which indicate when they're irrigating, they're wasting water as well,'' he said.

Homeowner Delores Eubanks, who also lives in Dana Shores, says she got her high water bill the day before Christmas Eve and “it ruined my Christmas.''

Eubanks has lived in her house for nearly 50 years and said her water bills usually run about $50 to $60. Her December water bill was $563.

Older said the water department sent someone out to read her meter. “They basically said this is it; this is accurate,'' she said.

“I'm thinking there was something entered wrong, the meter readings, a new system, I don't know,'' Older said. “They haven't given us any answers.''

Quinn-Adams said she was told by the water department to check for leaks at her residence, such as a leaking sprinkler head.

“My guess is something is going on with the meter reading, but we haven't heard that,'' she said. “I think somebody should come out and speak to us or at least acknowledge there is an issue, obviously there is.”

Quinn-Adams said one neighbor paid a plumber to come out twice and paid a landscaper to check her sprinkler heads. “They're spending money and they're not getting any results,'' she said.

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