For months now, an Atlanta woman has been fighting a relentless monthly water bill that has now ascended to $9,000.
Blayne Beacham, who lives in a three-bedroom cottage in Ridgewood Heights off Moore's Mill Road, said the problem started last July when she got a $497 water bill from the city Department of Watershed Management. According to Beacham, her monthly water bill had normally been less than $100.
Beacham said: "I assumed I had a leak, so I got a handyman to come out and check everything," said Beacham, who lives alone. She sent in a $100 payment and appealed the bill. "They turned down my appeal."
The agency did, however, check Beacham's meter and told her nothing was wrong with it, watershed officials confirmed to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Then, by December 16, Beacham's bill had shot up to $758.
She responded, to again appeal saying: "We called the water department and worked out an agreement where I would pay them $120 a month until I could get a court date.”
A few days later, Watershed Management checked the meter once again and still found nothing wrong.
Then after getting an April bill for a ridiculous $1,155, plus $1,430 in late charges, Beacham hired a certified plumber who also confirmed there were no leaks, she said. On April 30, Beacham went with a lawyer to a hearing with watershed officials, where she appealed the bill.
Beacham was told she needed a monitor to check usage would be installed on her meter, Beacham says:
"They also told me that I needed to get an additional ‘leak detection specialist' to come to my house and make sure there was no leak."
Beacham's May bill was $175, which was still high by her standards. She asked water officials if they figured out why the bill had come down.
Beacham said a water official told her that they had decided that she had had a leak in the past and had gotten it fixed.
"This is absolutely absurd. I have no way of proving I did not get a leak fixed, because I did not have a leak. I expressed my frustration and asked if I could please just get a new meter." She was told no.
Now Beacham says:
"Last night I opened my mailbox and got a bill for $9,224.40 -- $2,638.68 worth of past charges, and $6,705.72 worth of new charges. The thing that is so frustrating is that if I had a leak, and if I had gotten it fixed, how would my bill be this high? "
Watershed Management is trying to determine what the problem is, spokeswoman Janet Ward said. She said the agency again checked Beacham's meter June 15 and found no malfunctions.
Beacham continues desperately:
"It's been going for a year and I'm just ready to get the issue resolved. The longer they put off finding a resolution, the more likely I'll be saddled with a $9,000 bill, if they admit I don't have a leak, why won't they just replace the meter?"
If you think your bills are bulls**t, try telling Blayne Beacham. She might start using her water meter as something useful, a weapon.