Reporting Kurtis Ming
A senior citizen is asking the city of Sacramento how she could have used nearly 55,000 gallons of water in one month. To put it in perspective, the EPA says the average American family of four uses about 12,000 gallons of water a month.
Her son called Kurtis when the city said the meter is working fine.
There’s no getting around it – Mary Dias uses water. Living alone, she says she says she doesn’t use much, but a bill from the city of Sacramento says otherwise. The city says she used 19,000 gallons in just two days in July, with a total of 55,000 gallons that month.
That’s two and a half times the amount of water Mary’s pool, 11,000 toilet flushes, or 1,571 10-minute showers.
All that water used in just one month by an 84-year-old woman?
“I think there needs to be a reversal of some charges,” said Gary Dias, Mary’s son.
Gary takes care of the bills. That July bill was almost $175 dollars, compared to around $125 normally.
“We can only tell the customer what water goes through their meter. We can’t tell them what happens to it once it’s gone onto their property,” said Jessica Hess, communications specialist for the city’s Department of Utilities.
Hess said they don’t know where that water went, but they offered to help Mary with a “Water Wise House Call.” It’s a free service for city customers.
If you request one, a water conservation specialist will come out, check for leaks, offer ways to cut down usage, and even provide free supplies to make your plumbing more efficient.
“I think we’ve helped make some progress and I think as the weather gets cooler, Mrs. Dias will see a significant change as she stops irrigating over the winter,” said Hess.
Gary says the city checked his mom’s meter and said it was working fine.
“How could that much water somewhere just disappear on the property and nobody notices it? There’s no flooding, you don’t hear any water running,” said Gary.
After we called the city, they tested the meter again at Mary’s house and even removed it and checked it at their own shop.
“We’re very confident that the meter’s working correctly,” said Hess.
But Gary doesn’t buy it, saying there’s no way his mom used that much water.
“This isn’t just about ‘Give us money back.’ They need to make the system right,” said Gary.
Mary’s bills before and after July were also quite high, with about 36,000 gallons recorded in those months.
We wondered if Mary’s pool could be leaking and refilling, but Gary says the pool doesn’t have an automatic filler.
If you’re interested in getting a Water Wise House Call, you can call the city’s 3-1-1 line. Other local municipalities also offer similar services for free.