FAYETTEVILLE, TN (WAFF) - It's a resident versus the water board, after a homeowner received a bill three times the normal amount after he moved out of his house. Frustrated after getting nowhere with the company, he turned to me.
Up until a few months ago, a home at Monks Road in Fayetteville TN was where Brian Burton called home. After five years, he moved out in July. Brian said his next water bill showed a reduction in water usage by 2,000 gallons. The following bill, however, was a different story – it showed usage of 22,000 gallons.
Perplexed, Brian called the Lincoln County Board of Public Utilities, and was told he must have a leak.
"I was so scared that I would walk in and have flooded water everywhere," said Brian. To the contrary, Burton found nothing. "The hot water heater was in working condition, there were no faucets running. I checked the faucets out back and in the front."
Brian said the meter only showed ten gallons had been used between Aug. 14 and Aug. 29. He said the water company never sent a meter reader out to check. He then called Board Superintendent Ronnie Braden, who said that the problem had to be on Brian's end.
Burton said Braden even suggested someone else may be to blame. "They suggested that a realtor let somebody in and a child left the water running, but when we went back to inspect everything, there was no water running or leaks anywhere," said Burton.
We also put in a call to Braden. He refused an on-camera interview, but said they have been out to Brian's house twice to read the meter. He even suggested someone must be stealing water from the outside faucet.
We wanted to know why we found several holes dug in Brian's front yard and exposed water lines. Braden confirmed his crews had been in the area to repair a leak in the main pipe, but was adamant that the leak was in no way connected to Brian's increased water bill, even though he admitted Brian's house is serviced by that main pipe.
Braden said those types of leaks are quite common. He said on average they see about five to six leaks a day throughout the county.
Brian said he has no intention of paying a water bill that is three times the normal amount, even with the threat of having the water turned off and his account placed in collections.
"We had a $40 water bill for five years. I'm willing to pay $40. Heck, I'm willing to go halfway with them, but I don't think the responsibility of the $125 should be on me," said Burton.
He said it's not about the money, but the principle. "I want to have some kind of policy in place for the consumer, where if they have a dispute, they can have some type of resolution, some kind of action taken to resolve a mistake."
Brian said he has even reached out to the Tennessee Comptroller's Office, and was told they don't have authority over the water company in Fayetteville. Brian said his last resort is to appeal to the water board at their next meeting.
We will be in touch with Brian to see if there can be any resolution from him.