Family frustrated with company after months-long dispute over 51,000-gallon water usage

After call from Defenders, company says family can apply for leak relief program

GUADALUPE COUNTY, Texas – A Guadalupe County family said they have spent months hassling with their water company after they received a water bill that showed they used more than five times their average amount.

The McElroy family was desperate for answers after getting nowhere, so they reached out to the KSAT Defenders.

"I told them I was not going to pay it," Carol McElroy, a Guadalupe County, resident said.

The McElroy family received a final termination notice from their water company.

"There is no way that we used 51,000 gallons of water," McElroy said.

The couple has been living on their property along Ferryboat Lane in Guadalupe County for more than 22 years and said this is the first time their water bill has spiked this high.

The McElroys said they caught a small leak right away and it was fixed within a day in a half, so they don’t believe that could have been the problem.

They said after several phone calls with the water company, an employee came out to check.

"He said there's no way that could have leaked 51,000 gallons," Mark said.

KSAT reached out to SouthWest Water Company, and director of operations Glen Rose issued this response:

"Mr. and Mrs. McElroy inquired about their water usage between June 10, 2017, and July 10, 2017. As a result, SouthWest Water Company conducted a number of tests, including re-reading the meter and testing the meter for accuracy. The data and accuracy logs were correct, supporting the usage reflected in the McElroy's bill for this time period.
Tests confirmed this customer had higher-than-normal water usage for this time period, based on the customer's usage history. This suggests a leak on the customer's property, something the customer confirmed during conversation. This leak was further confirmed by the data usage log, which shows a significant spike in water usage from June 19, 2017 to June 27, 2017.
As is the case for any customer in good standing who has experienced a leak, SouthWest Water Company has offered Mr. and Mrs. McElroy a bill discount through our "leak relief program." Based on a customer's rates, usage history and usage at the time of the leak, SouthWest Water Company calculates a discount, if provided with proof of leak repairs."

The McElroys said they were surprised by the company's response.

"No. We don't believe that 51,000 gallons came out of that hole," Mark McElory said.

The company promised to discount their bill by more than $170 through their leak relief program.

"Without you all, we couldn't have done it," Carol McElory said. "They wouldn't have listened to us."

"The Defenders definitely did their job," Mark McElroy said.