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Mission Springs Water District bills customer twice for monthly water use of 38,896 gallons

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Sixty-eight-year-old Linda Barnes owns a mobile home in the "Palm View Estates" in Desert Hot Springs.

She says her "typical" water bill usually runs somewhere between $20 to $35 a month.

"They don't want to listen to their customers," said Barnes, while talking about the Mission Springs Water District. 

Spikes in her bill over the past several months, include one in May 2018, showing a water use of 38,896 gallons, for a bill totaling $160.19. 

In March 2019, she says she was once again charged for the same number of gallons, 38,896.

In April, the total went down a bit, to 23,188 gallons.

"I can't imagine using 38,000 gallons of water in one month, or even 23,000 gallons of water in one month," said Barnes.

The grandmother says she has "no idea" why her bill shows "so much consumption".  

She says most of the time she lives alone, with a home health aide occasionally staying overnight. 

In the house, she uses water in the kitchen, and for bathing, and says her outdoor water use is limited to the garden in front of her home, and for potted plants on the porch.  

She also says she's "certain" no one is stealing her water.

Barnes says the water district is essentially ignoring her questions and complaints, so she asked News Channel 3 to get involved, to help her find a resolution. 

We spoke with a water district spokesperson, who said the district is certain that the meter at Linda's house is working properly after the meter was checked last Friday.  

John Soulliere says the spikes in Linda's bill could be caused by an underground leak, someone stealing the water from her home, or, Barnes occasionally using much more water at her home than she realizes.

"Once water passes through a water meter, it is impossible for the district to know what is happening with the water on private property," said Soulliere. 

He contends Linda's bills are accurate.

He suggests the widow much more closely monitor her usage, and maybe consider hiring a leak detection service to inspect her home.

"Something is happening on that property that she should look a little bit closer into," said Soulliere.

The water district spokesperson says the district could offer relief for the late fees on Barne's bill, and, could spread out the monthly payment over time to reduce the financial impact.

News Channel 3 checked with a leak detection firm here in the valley, and we were told the cost to perform a leak detection service on a home without a pool, is $300. 

Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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