CONVERSE, TX – A retired Marine says he couldn’t believe his eyes: an $8,400 water bill over the past two months.
The city says it’s not a mistake. Crews believe more than 300-thousand gallons of water have flowed through Jimmie Allen’s meter this summer.
He can’t stop staring at his stack of water bills.
"You've got to be kidding me,” he says. “Honestly, you have to be kidding me."
Allen’s monthly bill went from an overage of $100 to $4,600.
“There’s now way we used this amount of water,” he said at the time.
Allen thought it was a fluke, or maybe the meter was malfunctioning.
"The tech came and said it was, in his words, flipping out,” he says.
The City of Converse says after that first high bill, crews came to the home to diagnose the problem. They installed a new, computerized meter because they heard running water and wanted to know the source.
"The water softener seemed to have water running in a flushing mode, flushing to waste,” city manager Shawna Dowell says.
Dowell says crews are confident that Allen’s water softener is leaking.
"It is the customer's responsibility to diagnose the problem on their side of the meter,” she says.
But Allen says he had two companies look at the equipment. News 4 checked with both and crews say everything is working fine.
"The water, if it was underneath the house, would lift my foundation from where it's at and shift the whole entire home,” Allen says an independent contractor told him.
He now owes more than $8,400, including late fees, and rejected the city’s offer of a payment plan.
"So for the next nine months I'm going to pay you $1,000 a month for something I didn't do?" Allen says.
At an impasse, the city shut off his water. Now, the faucets are dry, the kids are filling up buckets from a neighbor’s hose and Allen says his next step is to hire a lawyer.