CONVERSE, TX – An Army veteran in Converse who got a surprise $12,000 water bill wasn’t getting any answers until he contacted News 4 WOAI for help.
"We can't afford $12,000,” homeowner Rick Barfield said. “I don't know who can these days."
If the total weren’t stick shock enough, the bottom of his bill had a bar graph showing the number of gallons used each month skyrocketing.
"They're talking half a million gallons of water I've used so I don't know, 20 or 30 Olympic-sized pools,” Barfield said.
He doesn’t even have one pool.
The city of Converse told him his house had a leak. He thought the city must have been reading the meter wrong.
"If I go to any of these outlets in my house and put in one gallon in [a jug], I get one gallon there,” Barfield said while pointing to the meter.
To prove his point, he filled a jug with about a gallon of water and the meter increased by about a gallon.
"There's not a leak,” Barton said. “There's nothing wrong with it."
When Barfield called News 4, it reminded us of a story we reported about six months ago
about another homeowner in Converse with another high water bill.
"There's no way we used this amount of water,” retired Marine Jimmie Allen told News 4 back in July.
Allen had a more than $8,000 water bill. The city of Converse said he had a leak. His water company said that wasn’t possible.
Eventually, his water was shut off, and after seven weeks of borrowing water from neighbors, Allen said he had no choice but to agree to the city’s payment plan: $300 a month until his bill’s paid off.
Barfield worried he’d have to cut the same deal with the city, and it would break him.
"In five, six months I'll owe more on my water bill than my home is worth,” he said.
News 4 camped out all Monday afternoon in the Converse City Hall parking lot, trying to get an explanation or response.
We never got one, but Barfield did.
Late Monday afternoon, he got a call from the city saying part of the bill was inaccurate and the rest would be waived. He immediately stopped by city hall to pay his water bill – but instead of $12,000 for the past two months, it was just $180.