EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

August 20, 2013

Woman shocked by $1,593 water bill

She and city debate charge that's 15 times her normal bill

The city’s Water Department couldn’t find a leak at a Haverhill woman’s home, and neither could a privately hired plumber.

Now the woman is being asked to pay a whopper of a water bill, nearly $1,600 for three months usage instead of her normal $100.

Anne Proctor and the city appear to be at an impasse. She said it must have been a mistake, possibly a faulty meter reading, while city water officials say the meter was operating properly and that the big bill likely resulted from an undetected leak that somehow was eventually resolved.

The only recourse Proctor has is to file for an abatement with the city in hopes of being granted some sort of leniency, officials said.

“Unfortunately, I have no choice but to pay it,” said Proctor, who owns a condex near Haverhill High School. “You should not have to pay and then try to get your money back. But I will pay my bill, just as long as it’s an accurate bill.”

She said she was told she has to pay the bill before she can go before the city’s Water and Wastewater Abatement Board to plead her case.

“I’m angry and frustrated,” Proctor said. “If I pay this in full, it’s more than my mortgage (payment). And if I pay it in installments, they’ll charge me 14 percent interest.”

The situation Proctor finds herself in began when she received her most recent quarterly water bill.

Instead of her typical bill of about $100 for roughly 12,000 gallons of water, Proctor was billed $1,593 for about 185,000 gallons of water — more than 15 times her average water usage for three months.

She said she doesn’t have a swimming pool, doesn’t have a lawn sprinkler system and can’t explain such an abnormally high level of usage.

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