Ghost Leak: Atlanta woman confused over $9k water bill reasoning

City watershed department refused to listen to her complaints until CBS46′s consumer investigator Better Call Harry got involved
Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 12:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 at 7:38 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A southwest metro woman received a water bill for more than $9,000, and tried for six months to get the Atlanta Watershed Management to review her complaints to no avail.

For Sabra Airall, it all started in September 2021, when the city replaced her water meter. By the end of November, he bill tripled.

“My bill shot up to $500 and I said, ‘Hey, what’s wrong? Is somebody stealing water or what?’”

The following month, her bill jumped to $4,000, and by the end of January 2022, it was $9,615.01.

A comparison revealed that a year ago, Airall used 7,480 gallons of water, and a year later, 191,488 gallons.

“Am I supplying water to the whole neighborhood?” she asked.

Airall says Atlanta Watershed did offer one reason it could be happening, a “ghost leak.” So, she hired a plumber, who found no leaks. CBS46 Investigates also checked the meter while Airall was running her water, and confirmed the plumber’s findings: no leaks.

But a deeper investigation found the identification number on the water meter next door to Sabra’s was the same number appearing on her bill. The ID numbers on Sabra’s meter and the meter next door had been crossed.

Along with CBS Investigates, Atlanta Watershed Management also discovered the meter signals were crossed and removed the fees from Airall’s bill.

If you believe you’re being overcharged for water, first check for leaks. Turn off all your water, and then check your meter. If the meter is turning over numbers, chances are you have a leak.

Atlanta Watershed Management has a website where you can report problems. City of Atlanta residents can also call 404-546-0311 to request a water meter check.

Click here to file an illegal consumption report.

Here is a customer feedback form for Atlanta Watershed Management.

Click here for the city’s water and sewer rates and here to calculate your bill.

If there’s something you would like CBS46′s Consumer Investigator Better Call Harry to look into, fill out this submission form.