NewsLocal News


Grand Ledge family gets 93,000 gallon water bill

Posted at 8:22 AM, Nov 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 10:52:55-05

A story of one whopper of a water bill, that started with a leaky toilet. Most people would expect that to raise their water bill a little higher. But not more than $1,000 higher.


FOX 47 News's Alani Letang talked with a family that got billed for nearly 93,000 gallons of water in a month.


Katie and Lee Esch water bill had been averaging around $30-$35 a month since they moved to Grand Ledge in February.


The next thing they knew their bill was more than $2,700 and they were getting shut-off notices.


"It's ridiculous, you live in a state that's surrounded by water and you're getting charged this much for water," said Lee.


They told News 10, they don't even drink the water and they want answers now.


"It's crushing. We have tried to pick up extra hours at work, we actually put both of our student loans on forbearance to try to pay it back. There have been a lot of tears. We were actually supposed to go on vacation in January that we were no longer able to do as a family," said Katie and Lee Esch, Grand Ledge residents.


The Esches, who have a 5-month-old daughter, are struggling to understand why the city of Grand Ledge can't answer how they used almost 93,000 gallons of water in just one month.


That's enough water to fill up an average-size pool more than twice.


"I laughed. I thought this has to be a clerical error or something. But if we had to use the water, then we wanted to pay for it, but to not being able to set the payment plan, that's what made it really hard for us,"  said Katie Esch.


Their bill went from around $31.98 to $66.82 to owing $2,738. That's forcing them to scale back, and probably having to use Lee's Christmas bonus on the water bill.


"He just said that last night looks like nobody is getting anything for Christmas. Luckily, (Violet's) so little that she probably won't notice," said Katie Esch.


The city told the family that their high water usage was being estimated based off a leaking toilet back in June. They had that fixed within a few days of discovering the leak.


"I was just concerned, is there a bigger leak somewhere, or is something going on. But then, after that bill, our landlord came out and looked around and there are no leaks or no water damage," said Katie Esch.


The city was able to take off $1,035.92 worth of sewer charges, and extend their due date to Dec. 28. But they still owe $1,358.27.


"I understand, to a city that probably has a large budget, maybe that's not that much money. But, to not think about how it can affect a family, and not have any compassion for the fact that we've been trying to pay on it. We just want an answer as to why," Esch said.


To put it into perspective, a leaking toilet can waste up to 6,000 gallons of water a month, and sometimes up to 9,000 gallons, according to plumbers.


That's one-10th of what the city claims the Esch family used.


We've reached out to the city multiple times for an explanation of why the Esches and others in Grand Ledge have gotten higher bills recently. We will let you know when we get a response.