Elderly woman receives $27,000 water bill




Days after an elderly Atlanta woman had an emotional breakdown after receiving a $27,000 water bill, the water department has responded with new information. 

Ninety-one year old Ruth Starks told CBS46 earlier this week that she hadn't received a water bill in years. The water department said their records indicate that they had issued billing statements to a P.O. Box belonging to Starks. 

It turns out, Starks no longer used that P.O. Box. 

The water department also said they made 10 visits to her home during the past decade to check her meter and recommend she have her property inspected for leaks. 

City records show that Starks only made one partial water bill payment during the past three years, even though she said she doesn't have a bad record of paying her bills. 

She said she has been recovering from a stroke during the past couple of years and was only recently made aware of the $27,000 debt. The water department has since helped Starks apply for plumbing repair and bill payment assistance.

SEPT. 17, 2018

On Bernice Street in Atlanta, 91-year-old Ruth Starks is in need of some help.

"I don’t need any more pressure on me. I can’t take it," said Starks.

Starks said she had a stroke about 5 years ago and that’s when her family started helping to pay her bills. "I thought they were paying everything," said Starks.

So you can only imagine what she thought when she learned she had incurred a $27,000 water bill.

"Well I’m scared that they will cut my water off," said Starks.

There is a constant drip in her bathroom, but no other obvious signs of a major water leak.

"Why they didn’t they send me some kind of notice and let me know my water bill wasn’t being paid," said Starks.

Starks said she hasn’t received a water bill in years and when she reached out to the department for help recently... crickets.

"I’m not trying to beat the government or anything like that. I just want my bills paid," said Starks.

So CBS46 reached out to the water department and they are actively investigating the matter.

"I don’t have a bad record paying my bill. I did the best I could with what I could all my life," said Starks.

Atlanta's Water Department also sent the following statement:The Department of Watershed Management is committed to ensuring safe and clean drinking water to all Atlanta ratepayers. We are aware of Ms. Ruth Stark's escalated consumption of water, which is due to a leak on the private property of her home. DWM is actively working with the Stark family to resolve the issue.

Ms. Stark is a good candidate for our Care and Conserve Program and we encourage all customers who may be in need of plumbing repair assistance to contact their area Care and Conserve nonprofit administrator and complete the application process for assistance.

Here is a list of our plumbing repair nonprofit grant recipients:

Integrity Transformations CDC 261 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. Atlanta, GA 30314 Phone: (404) 853-1780 Ext 205 Email: ccprp@integritycdc.org Website: integritycdc.org Service Area: Council District 3,8,9,10,11 Southface Energy Institute 241 Pine Street Atlanta, GA 30308 Phone: (404) 604-3614 Email: ccprp@southface.org Website: southface.org Service Area: Council District 1,2,4,5,6,7,12 Nehemiah Project CDC 51 Senoia Road Fairburn, GA 30213 Phone: (770 ) 742-0706 Fax: (770) 742-0874 Email: info@nehemiahprojectcdc.org Website: nehemiahprojectcdc.org Service Area: South Fulton, City of South Fulton, Chattahoochee Hills, Sandy SpringsCopyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



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