Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 23, 2014

Woman won’t pay sewer bill for lawn watering

Oct 30, 2012

IOWA CITY (AP) — An Iowa City woman is refusing to pay a hefty sewer charge for water she used to keep her lawn alive during this summer’s drought, but that could get her in trouble with the city.

Linda Watkins had no problem paying the $92 water bill she received in August because she knew she was using more water than usual for her lawn, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. But Watkins, 76, balked at the idea of paying $123 for sewer charges when most of the water she used stayed on her lawn and never reached the city’s sewers.

Her sewer bill is normally about $15.

Watkins paid $141 of her combined water and sewer bill, including $23 for what she estimated her sewer usage to be. But city officials say Watkins’ water could be turned off if she continues to refuse to pay her bill.

“If they’re going to shut me off, then I guess I’m going to have to come up with something else,” Watkins said. “It’s about fairness. That’s the bottom line.”

City officials say the problem is they cannot tell how much water is used on a lawn unless residents install a second water meter to measure outdoor use.

Watkins said she’s not interested in installing a second meter, which would be costly. Residents have to pay $185 for a second meter and pay a plumber to install it.

“With the drought conditions, we had some people who were watering and they were surprised by their bills,” said Melissa Miller, the city’s revenue and risk manager.

But the city isn’t making any exceptions to the policy, so Watkins may be forced to pay the bill.

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