CLEVELAND -- A West Park woman who lives in a tiny house got socked with an enormous water bill.
Abby Meyer says the whole experience has been "extremely, extremely frustrating." Reacting to water and sewer charges that once totalled nearly $3,000, she admis, "I just lost it and started crying."
Meyer bought the 900 square foot home in West Park four years ago, and never had a water bill above $120 until last November. That's when one for almost $300 crept in. It was followed in February by a bill for over $2,000.
"I take a shower, I brush my teeth," she explained. "I don't do anything unusual. I don't have a pool or water the lawn. I don't even have a dishwasher. There's really nothing outrageous going on."
Meyer has been in touch with the Cleveland Water Department, which she said has not been able to explain the charges or do anything other than demand an immediate $600 payment, which she made.
She's now on a payment schedule which threatenes shutoff if she misses a monthly payment for money she insists she does not owe. For 100,000 gallons of water she says she never used, more water than the average family of four uses in a year.
"My fiance's been building a new bathroom," Meyer points out, as one of the ways she has been searching for potential leaks or other problems that could explain the one-time spike.
"He's been in and out, all over the house, in the crawl spaces, absolutely nothing. He's re-doing the plumbing now and there are no leaks."
However, Jason Wood, a spokesman for the Water Department, told WKYC that its crews had found a leak in the water vault, an underground area near the sidewalk which contained Meyer's water meter. It is about 75 feet from the house.
Wood said if Meyer were to hire a plumber to fix the leak, she would be eligible to have 50 percent of the excess water and sewer charges removed.
Such undergound vaults at private homes are unusual, Wood told WKYC, but leaks in them are the homeowner's responsibility.
Meyer contacted WKYC after seeing a recent news report concerning Mayfield Heights homeowner Marc Golub, who was billed some $1,500 for water he insists he never used.
Friday, the Cleveland Water Department issued a warning to Golub, threatening shutoff if he does not comply with a payment schedule.
He was billed for using approximately 1,000 gallons of water per day, an amount he called "ridiculous" and "impossible."