Widow Charged $1,000 for Two Months of Water Bills

City says plenty of residents have seen water bills spike because of drought

By Tammy Mutasa
|  Thursday, Dec 1, 2011  |  Updated 8:33 PM CDT
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A 70-year-old Garland woman's utility bills over two months totaled more than $1,000 dollars. The city says it's legitimate, she says the city's system is flawed.

Tammy Mutasa, Garland Journalist

A 70-year-old Garland woman's utility bills over two months totaled more than $1,000 dollars. The city says it's legitimate, she says the city's system is flawed.

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A 70-year-old Garland widow who lives alone has received two consecutive utility bills totaling more than $1,000.

For the past 30 years that Ruby Valderas has lived in her Garland home, her water bills have averaged between $35 to $50 per month, her family said.

But August and September were outrageously expensive, they said.

"When you're old like I am, you have a limited amount of money, and it's not going to last for very long if you start getting bills like that," Valderas said. "They are scary. It's scary for me."

Her son, Jay Gillian, even had a plumber look at her house and provide a letter explaining that there were no leaks.

Gillian said his mother's bill shot up in August. According to the bill, she used 45,000 gallons of water.

"That's like filling up a neighborhood full of swimming pools," he said.

Gillian has been going back and forth with the city of Garland trying to resolve the matter. He hasn't had much luck, though the city did credit back about $130.

The city says the bill is legitimate. The city said it has tried to work with Valderas on a payment plan. A lot of Garland residents have seen their water bills spike because of the extreme drought conditions, the city said.

Valderas' utility bills piled up to nearly $900 by November, affecting her holidays with her family.

"We were trying to work something out with them, some kind of arrangement ... but her electricity and water are bundled together and, the day before Thanksgiving, they turned her electricity off," Gillian said.

Valderas said she wants the city to recalculate its numbers.

"I'm overwhelmed," she said. "How am I going to keep paying those kinds of bills? It isn't fair."

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