From: Lakisha Ladson, The Dallas Morning News
Published February 24, 2005 12:00 AM

Woman Absorbs Cost of Big Sprinkler Leak; City Lowers Bill to $2,000

HEATH, Texas — The bad news about Eileen Davis' sprinkler system hit her like a spray of cold water in the face.

Because of an undetected underground leak, the Heath woman received a monthly water bill of $5,904.76. Her normal tab is $40.

"Unfortunately, a million gallons had passed through the meter," City Manager Dennis Watson said.

Ms. Davis said: "This horrifies me, because this can happen to me again. Where was this water that I lost?"

There were no puddles in her yard, she told the city in a letter, and her sprinkler system had been off for months. But a check found that glue holding sprinkler parts together had failed.

Ms. Davis theorizes that much of the water may have flowed away in a creek behind her property.

Upon learning that a leak was to blame, the city initially agreed to charge Ms. Davis at the leakage rate of $2.50 per thousand gallons, cutting her bill to $2,500.

Thursday, she appealed to the City Council. "All I can ask for is pity," she said.

The council then lowered her bill to $2,000.

That was less than the city's estimated cost for the water but still $500 more than the previously highest bill Mr. Watson could remember.

Ms. Davis will have several months to come up with the money.

"Thank you very much," she said. "I still have the payment plan, so my son could maybe go to college."

The moral of the story: Use only trained, certified sprinkler system specialists and quality parts, Mr. Watson said.

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