Cherokee County homeowner receives $4,000 water bill - CBS46 News

Cherokee County homeowner receives $4,000 water bill

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ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Keith O'Brien got into a bit of hot water using his home irrigation system in Cherokee County.

"I can tell you right now, I'll probably never turn that sprinkler on again," O'Brien said.

He said he realized his sprinkler was leaking in December when he noticed the yard was damp. So he fixed the problem, and then got a rude awakening.

"About three or four days later, we got a blue hang tag on our front door saying we had used 654,000 gallons in the last month. Once I picked myself up off the floor I went on the internet and googled it." said O'Brien.

"I realized in terms of 20 x 40 pools that would have been 27 swimming pools that would have been leaking out in my yard for 33 days, allegedly," O'Brien said.

O'Brien insists it's impossible. He said there was no overwhelming evidence of such a leak.

"I talked to several irrigation people and they said that you would have had a sinkhole. It's not possible that much water leaked through it," O'Brien said.

To make matters worse, O'Brien is now stuck with a $4,000 water bill when he typically pays an average of $75 a month.

So CBS Atlanta News had some Tough Questions for Dwight Turner with the Cherokee County Water and Sewage Authority.

We wanted to know if the reading was accurate.

"The way it's possible, the meter we use can get 20 gallons a minute or more through it," Turner said.

When asked if the water department inspected O'Brien's meter, they said no.

Turner said his staff double checked the reading on the meter and then noticed wash away in O'Brien's yard, but they had no visual proof documenting the run off.

We also asked the water department if they have a leak adjustment policy in place for something like this.

We were told they do for household water usage, but not for irrigation systems.

O'Brien has been given two years to pay off his bill with no interest or penalties.

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