Man says big water bill is impossible

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An Ogden man got a shock when he opened his water bill and discovered he owed nearly $10,000. That means he used more than a million gallons of water from mid-December to early April.

Rick Baur supposedly used the water during the winter, when usage is typically the lowest. He's been trying to get the bill fixed ever since but said it's been nearly impossible to get anyone to listen.

Baur appreciates a hot shower and a green lawn as much as the next person, but he says it's not worth the bills he's getting. "Anybody with a mind can see we don't owe it," he said.

In December the water department told him there was too much snow to read the meter and that they'd estimate his usage until it melted. He says, "After they could read it, they came back with a $9,800 water bill."

Baur had a plumber up to check for leaks, but there weren't any. So he appealed the bill and didn't pay. "They shut my water off," he told us.

To use that much water, you'd have to take a 9,000 hours-long shower, or you could flush the toilet 875,000 times. Even Lagoon doesn't use that much water in a summer, and they have a water park.

Baur finally paid but continued his appeal, even speaking with the mayor. He says it didn't do much good. Then he got his August bill of $1,700.

John Patterson, the Ogden City Chief Administrative Officer, said, "Unfortunately, because of the new rate structure, we have people getting bills that size."

Ogden City says that new rate structure, designed to curb excess water use, is likely the result of the $1,700 bill. But the bigger bill? That's the nearly $10,000 question.

"To go from a $300 water bill in summer to pretty much a $3,000-a-month bill in winter, it's not that big of a rate increase," Baur said.

"Is it physically possible to shove that much water through a ¾ inch pipe?" Patterson asked. He says he'll personally look into Baur's bill, and that the city may do away with the new rate structure entirely. In fact, they're already working on issuing $250,000 in refunds to people who have complained.



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Andrew Adams and Sarah Dallof


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