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Tampa man hosed by $1,000 water bill after paying about $40 the previous month

Water bill explodes in vacant home
Posted at 5:44 PM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-11 17:44:35-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- A Tampa resident says bills in his vacant home average $40 a month but in April, the city billed him nearly a grand for water.

There's little need for water in Robert Brown's Tampa home because Brown doesn't currently live there.

We checked and found Brown’s bill rarely tops $40 dollars each month. But April’s water bill delivered a shock.

“It said $1000-some odd," Brown exclaimed. "They must be crazy!”

Brown says calls to the city got him nowhere so he contacted Taking Action Reporter Jackie Callaway.

She interviewed City Water Department Director Chuck Weber about Brown’s bill.

“We've done what we call a high bill investigation,” Weber told Callaway.

The city sent out a technician to inspect Brown’s home for leaks and discovered a leaky toilet. We asked how could a single leaky toilet go through thousands of gallons of water a month?

Weber responded, “We've seen hundreds of gallons a week because it runs all the time.”

The good news for brown and others like him, if customers fix the leak the city of Tampa lowers their bill. In Brown’s case, the city credited his account $561.

Most leaks come from sprinkler systems and toilets. It's easy to check for these leaks. Turn off all the water and if there's still movement on your meter, you have a leak.

To check your toilet, put a few dye drops in the tank and if the color shows up in the bowl that is a sign of leaking.