Woman's $50,000 Water Bill Reminds Us What Not to Do at Home

AquariumIn the heat of summer, in a record drought year, I think we all expect we’re going to see a jump in our utility bills. I lived in one house where the clunky, old air conditioner cost roughly $25 a day to run -- so we made sure it was pretty darn hot before turning it on and spent a lot of time in the kiddie pool out back.

But a monthly water bill for more than $50,000 ($53,061.92, to be exact)? It happened to a woman in Colorado. It said she had used more than million gallons of water in a month. For comparison purposes, the Georgia Aquarium is the world's largest, and it has 10 million gallons of water. In contrast, Lisa Mannion’s home is an unassuming three-bedroom home with a drought-resistant garden (according to Google Street View).

What would you do if you opened a bill for that much? And what happened to make it jump?


Mannion herself said she assumed it was a “computer glitch,” since there was no way she could use that much water even if she turned on all the faucets, all the time, and ran shrieking through the sprinklers for a month straight, singing, “Water, water, everywhere! I am the Queen of Atlantis!”

Not that she tried that. As far as I know, anyway. 

While there was indeed a problem with her meter, it was supposed to be fixed with a manual reading by an actual human who came to her home. Said person either wrote it down wrong (buh?) or entered “Eight Million Gallons, For Realz, Yo!” into the system when he got back to the office -- and then nobody thought to question the obvious, glaring mistake (double buh).

So the next time you tell me, “I’m going to use the teller, because I want to make sure my check gets deposited,” or “I don’t trust automatic pilot -- the human touch is so much more reliable,” or even “Did you see it for yourself?” I’m going to remind you about the lady in Colorado who got a $53,000 water bill because a real, live person said she'd used 8 million gallons of H2O that month. I may even sing, “Water, water, everywhere! I am the Queen of Atlantis!”

Did you ever get a bill that was glaringly wrong?

Image via Kobakou/Flickr

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