Chesterfield woman's water bill tops nearly $1,500: 'There's no way'

Chesterfield woman's water bill tops nearly $1,500: 'There's no way'
Posted at 3:07 PM, Mar 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 15:07:57-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- A Chesterfield woman is searching for answers after her monthly water bill rang up almost ten times more than she usually pays.

Andria Henderson has lived in her Chesterfield home for the past two years. Last September, she received a water bill so high that she knew something had to be wrong.

"Since we've been here, our water bill would be no more than $147," Henderson said.

It wasn't until she opened September's bill for almost $1,500 that she found herself in disbelief.

"I said, this must be some kind of mistake. You know, this can't be my bill. I don't know what's going on," Henderson said.

Henderson said she immediately called the Chesterfield County utilities department, hoping to get answers.

"They was like, well from what we read, this is how much you have used in that month. I said, no way. I don't have no car wash. I don't have no swimming pool to fill up," Henderson said.

The bill that Henderson received said she used about 230,000 gallons of water in just one month. That's enough water to fill up about 14 average-sized swimming pools.

"It's crazy. I mean, it's only four of us that live here," Henderson said.

Ryan O'Connell is the residential service plumber with James River Air Conditioning Company. He and residential service manager Tom Pugh agree using that much water would be hard to do without notice.

"A leaky toilet uses about 21,000 gallons a month, so to be losing that much water, she has to have something astronomically horrible going wrong. The water had to go somewhere so you would see runts in the yard if something was left on for that length of time. There would be some type of evidence, I would think," Pugh said.

Both Chesterfield County and Henderson's landlord sent crews out to investigate. No leaks were found and her meter readings were normal.

The bill was then sent back to Chesterfield's utilities department and adjusted for $880, a number that Henderson said she still doesn't think she should pay.

"I shared with them, if I had used the water, I would pay for it. But I have not used that much water. And no one here has used that much water," Henderson said.

CBS6 Problem Solvers reached out to Chesterfield utilities about the bill. Shortly after, crews were sent to Henderson's home again to check the meter.

They all read normally except for the slow water test that found Henderson's meter reading at 94%. This means it was reading slightly under the amount of water that actually ran through.

Because of this, Chesterfield utilities said that per county code, the most they can do is what they've already done which is adjust her bill by 50%.

Despite Henderson agreeing to a payment plan for the $880 balance on top of paying her regular monthly bill, Henderson said as someone on a fixed income, she hopes the issue gets resolved soon.

"I just hope it gets adjusted. It's not fair. It really isn't," Henderson said.

Adjustments amounts and reasonings for them vary based on locality. If you find yourself with a high water bill that doesn't seem right, you can contact your water authority to check for issues, your local board of supervisors member or city councilperson.