5 On Your Side

Homeowner Billed for Neighbor’s Water Use

Posted September 4, 2007
Updated September 5, 2007

— No matter how much or how little water you use, you only want to pay for what you use, but a Raleigh homeowner told 5 on Your Side that is not the case for him.

Kirk Carrison and dozens of other homeowners claim they are paying for their neighbors' water use.

"It's really insane, isn't it? " Carrison said to 5 on Your Side reporter Monica Laliberte.

Carrison said the water lines to his Oaks at Bentley Ridge townhouse are crossed. He is billed for the water that one of his neighbors uses, and the neighbor gets the bill for the water he uses.

The water line problem came to Carrison's attention when he moved out, but continued to get water bills. He thought he had a water leak, so he got a plumber to come out to his townhouse. When the plumber tried to turn the water off and couldn't, he told Carrison, "You've got a big problem."

Carrison soon learned he was not the only homeowner with this problem. Seventy-one homes in the complex have water lines hooked up to the wrong meters - so 71 homeowners are paying their neighbors' water bills.

"I'm thinking, you know, how could this be?" said Carrison. "This thing was put together and approved by the city. They have to get permits, and the city comes out here and inspects, and it was approved and I wanted the city to tell me what's up."

Carrison first talked with city representatives about the problem 13 months ago, and the issue has still not been fixed.

Carrison said he refused to pay the water bill, even though the city threatened to shut off his water.

"Well, if they turn it off, so what? It's not my water," Carrison said. 

Carrison also said he just cannot figure out why a water line fix is so difficult.

"Everyone's pointing at everybody else, and the owners are stuck. It's actually our problem, and we didn't do anything," Carrison said. "We just bought here."

To get answers for the homeowners, 5 on Your Side went to Raleigh City Councilman Phillip Isley and asked him what he thought about the wrong water line connections.

"I thought it was a joke," Isley said. "Really, how does this happen? The city inspectors missed it. The water meter installers missed it. The builder missed it. The contractor who installed the plumbing missed it.

"So there's blame to be shared, I think, by everybody including the city," he said.

Isley also said that city staff is working to resolve the problem and the City Council is scheduled to take up the issue at its Wednesday meeting.

Isley said he hopes the city will look over all water bills to make adjustments if necessary. The Bentley Ridge homeowners just hope they soon will pay for only the water they use.


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  • ncguy Sep 6, 2007

    Well at least their not drinking reclaimed water like in Cary!

  • William Tell Sep 6, 2007

    gratefultobeUS, Mayberry was fine??? Seems the south needed all the "yankees" to come here and give you jobs so that you could stop picking cotton and tobacco. We don't want to be here anymore than you want us here. But if we leave, we will take the jobs with us, probably send the jobs to Mexico. At least if we send the jobs to Mexico, we don't have to hear from all the rednecks about how we had to come down here and give all the rednecks jobs. go out and pick cotton

  • Rabid_Wolf_2 Sep 6, 2007

    Happy I am on a well, until it goes dry . . . .

  • HangOn Sep 6, 2007

    Not really a difficult thing to fix, no plumbing needed, just change which meter is read for which account. These meters are in common areas for these tiny condos and crammed about 8 meters side by side. They don't cross property lines.

  • gratefultoGOD Sep 5, 2007

    Shecares... it happened when ALL THE YANKEES came down. Mayberry was fine before!

  • Outside the Beltline Sep 5, 2007

    Something similar happened to me while I was living in an apartment in Durham. For awhile my electric bills were reasonable, but then all of a sudden I received a nearly $200 electric bill during a time when I had been away on vacation for two weeks. I turned off the breakers in my apartment and wouldn't you know it, the meter that was supposed to be mine was still ticking away.

    Luckily I managed to convince the customer service people at Duke Energy that I wasn't just trying to get out of the bill, and they quickly came out and reassigned the meters. I even got a refund for overcharges on power from the months I was there.

  • Stopped Counting Sep 5, 2007

    If all the units have an outside connection on the street side of the unit and the meters are on the street side of the unit, someone could turn off the meters and turn them on one by one checking to see whose outside connection was working after each meter was turned back on. With that method and the homeowner's permission, the homeowner's probably wouldn't need to be there. They could even treat it as a meter switchout for billing purposes.

  • Stopped Counting Sep 5, 2007


    1 could be connected to 2; 2 to 3 and 3 to 1
    or some such.

  • PDMARTIN Sep 5, 2007

    I think until they fix the problem everyone who is involved should receive free water. Bet that gets them to fix it fast.

  • giffman Sep 5, 2007

    Dealing with Raleigh's utility department is an absolute nightmare. My well failed so I had to hook up to municipal water. I called the City of Raleigh and they told me that water was not available at my address. I told them that I had a water meter box in the middle of my front yard (actually, it's in the public R/W) and that several of my neighbors were connected to the system. That still didn't matter. According to their computer records, water wasn't available to me. After talking to six differen't people in four differen't departments (billing, inspections, operations, and stormwater??), I finally got them to come out and take a look. The process took about a month but I finally got hooked up to the system.