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Norman man forced to pay $400 water bill after city says he used over 46,000 gallons in February

NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – A Norman man was forced to pay a $400 water bill in February after the city told him his water meter reading was correct and he had used 46,000 gallons that month. 

James Piasecki said he feels there’s no way he used that much water in a single month. 

“I was shocked. It was absurdly high,” Piasecki said. “I was ready to move out when I saw that.” 

It was a sinking feeling for him when he’s used to paying around $90 for his water bill. Instead, he received the $400 bill at the end of February and Oklahoma’s winter freeze. 

“That’s almost four times, that’s a lot,” he said. 

According to Piasecki, he and his wife are the only two people that live in his Norman home. They only dripped their faucets for two nights and turned them off in the morning. However, Norman utilities said the meter reading appeared correct. 

“They said it’s higher than my normal usage,” Piasecki said. 

So, the city utilities launched an investigation.  

“They said the meters correct,” he said. “So there has to be a leak or something like that and I should call a plumber.”

Piasecki said he called a plumber to come out. They didn’t find a leak either. KFOR received the statement below from the city of Norman regarding the situation. 

“The City of Norman Utilities Division is aware of Mr. Piasecki’s complaints regarding his February water bill and our customer service has been working with him on the issue. 

In March, City Line Maintenance Crews performed a line check at his residence and found no water line leaks. Under normal procedures, if City crews find no water line leak, the customer is encouraged to have an independent plumbing inspection performed inside their home to ensure there are no major appliance leaks. If evidence of a leak is found and reported to the City, Utility Customer Service will make adjustments to the bill or provide a credit back to the account if the bill has already been paid. However, without further evidence of a leak, as is the case here, the customer will be charged for the full amount of the meter reading. 

Under the policy for unpaid accounts, a late payment notice is sent 10 days after the bill due date, then the account is charged 10% of the outstanding bill, and after 75 days from the due date, the service is subject to termination for non-payment. 

The City’s Utility Customer Service is committed to working with its customers and may make extended payment arrangements for qualifying customers. 

We are open to continued discussions with Mr. Piasecki and will work with him through fair procedures already in place if an underlying issue is found to have been at cause.”

City of Norman

“I was like well, I’m not paying that,” Piasecki said. 

According to Piasecki, he was still under the assumption that they were still investigating the situation, but he wasn’t getting any answers.  

“I feel like I’m at a dead end with them,” he said. “I’d have to call them back and they’d go oh, we don’t know.” 

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Eventually, the city came to shut off his water. 

“The fact that they straight up cut off my water as a reaction to their investigation,” he said. “That made me kind of upset about it. I think I’m screwed as far as this bill goes.” 

Piasecki ended up paying the bill along with his current bill due which pushed it up to around $500. He said his other highest month was October. In that month, he used around 25,000 gallons watering his lawn and filling up a kiddie pool for his dogs every week. He said from there he scaled back.

Right now, he said he hopes they can refund or put it toward his future water bills, however, he doesn’t feel that is going to happen.

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