STOCKTON, CA - One Terra Vista Lane home is drowning in debt over a giant water bill.
Homeowner Ron Lighten hopes his water meter is wrong. The meter reads that he uses more than 140,000 gallons of water each month. His plumber said that would be the equivalent of a leak in a 5-story apartment complex, not a single dwelling home.
On Monday, CalWater shut off the water at Lighten's home, which he rents to his daughter.
"[CalWater] unexpectedly and without notice, came and turned the water off and left a $1,200 bill at the house saying it needed to be paid," Lighten said.
This was not the first bizarre bill, though.
Lighten's daughter had lived in this house for two years, always using 13 to 16 units of water; it suddenly jumped to 186 units in July. That is equal to 140,000 gallons of water for one woman, in one month, at a home without a swimming pool.
CalWater suggested there was a leak in the house, so Lighten hired his own plumber and had two municipal workers come out to take a look.
"We just can't find a leak; we checked every room," Lighten said.
There was no water flowing out of the bathroom shower, toilets, faucets, and there was no visible water outside of the house.
"One of the municipal workers told me if there was that much water coming from a leak in this house, you'd see it for a block around," Lighten said.
Lighten thinks he's being charged for a faulty meter. CalWater took out the meter on Oct. 9 and sent it to a San Jose facility for testing. Lighten said he was told the water would stay on during that time, but that didn't happen and CalWater turned off the water on Oct. 15.
"It's kind of a Catch 22," Lighten said. "To determine if there is a leak underneath the foundation, we have to turn the water back on."
After News10 called CalWater, they called Lighten late Friday afternoon and told him they would turn the water back on while they investigate.
A CalWater manager said she was surprised to learn Lighten's water did get turned off, but it will be a few more weeks until the meter comes back from San Jose.
In the meantime, Lighten's daughter had to move out.