FOX 8 Defenders: Whopping $7K water bill

New Orleans -- Willard Echols' Louisa St. home filled with water during Katrina.

"We left here that Sunday morning, and that storm come through that Monday right?  Well okay.. that's how long it's been," said Echols.

Nearly seven years later, he said it's not habitable.  He lives in New Orleans East with relatives now, but for years Echols explained he lived in Plano, TX, more than 530-miles Northwest of New Orleans.

So nobody's lived in the Louisa house in years, yet Echols got a water bill from the Sewerage and Water Board for $818 in September.  The bill ballooned to more than $2,500 in October, and in November, the Sewerage and Water Board billed him for $4,773. "The largest bill that I got was $7,000 and something," said Echols.

Echols knew the super high bills had to be a mistake.  He even checked the meter.  "On the inside of that valve the meter was turning, but no water anywhere.. they checked.. no water going to the house.. no where. We didn't know where the water was going, but the meter was going," said Echols.

He said he called the Sewerage and Water Board. "He came out here and looked, but they never came back," said Echols. Yet he continued to get more water bills until the FOX 8 Defenders stepped in and got the agency to take a second look at Echols' case.

Soon after, Echols' meter stopped running non-stop. And we've been informed his bill has been adjusted so that he doesn't owe all that money.

A Sewerage and Water Board spokesperson told us the problem was on their end. Robert Jackson said water running through Willard Echols' meter was leaking underground. He said it was repaired three months after the problem was first reported and the delay in repairs came from a missed meeting with Echols. Jackson said the delay in repairs came from a missed inspection meeting with Echols, yet Echols said he never had a meeting set up.

If you have a consumer concern, call the FOX 8 Defenders... staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women at 877-670-6397.