‘I don’t understand': Resident demands explanation for $10,000 spike in water bill

Homeowner receives $13,000 water bill

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A Gentilly resident demands answers after receiving a water bill of over $10,000 while his water was turned off.

“It was crazy. I mean, I couldn’t even fathom this,” Kenneth Fields said as he looked at his bills. “They’re saying the current charge is $10,645.95. That’s ridiculous.”

What's even more confusing is he said his water was turned off in May.

"They was continuing to bill us, and we couldn't understand why. I couldn't understand why I received the $13,000 bill. How are you going to still continue to charge us?" Fields asked.

According to the Sewerage and Water Board documents Fields provided, he made his last payment in 2017.

From there, his bill racked up to $2,868.02 in May. His total balance jumped to $13,438 this month.

In addition to his high bill, Fields is also dealing with his daughter’s Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis.

“I mean, it was a hardship, you know? So we’re dealing with all of that, and like I said, it was an emotional roller coaster for us, and then to have to come back and deal with this, it was more than anybody can handle,” Fields said.

Since the water's been turned off, Fields said they've had to manage with just jugs of water.

"Her immune system was totally broken down, so she had to have fresh, running water," Fields said.

A Sewerage and Water Board spokesperson said the total reflects the outstanding bill dating back to 2017.

Fields said he went to the department for help Monday (Aug. 12), but according to the Sewerage and Water Board, Fields never reached out to them for an investigation.

“It was like a Catch-22. ‘Hey you don’t have a meter, so we can’t check it, we can’t do an investigation, deal with it. You have to pay the $13,000 first, before we can actually do an investigation,’” Fields said.

Fields said crews took his water meter when they turned the water off.

"I never thought I would be the individual looking out for this type of help for a $13,000 water bill. Never thought in my lifetime that we would be faced with something like this," Fields said.

FOX 8 asked the Department of Sewerage and Water Board what happened between May and August that caused the total bill to jump by over $10,000, but have not received a response.

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