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Broken water meter soaks homeowner

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When a Department of Environmental Protection bill began recording outrageous water usage charges for a period of time when there was a broken meter, one area homeowner turned to Senator Jeff Klein for help.

Millie Colon, who owns a home in Throggs Neck, had no idea what was in store for her when the indoor water meter in her home began leaking in 2005 and needed to be replaced. After receiving extremely high water bills for the period of time her service was out, and determining that the new charges were not the result of an increase in the water rate, Colon sought assistance.

Senator Klein’s office was able to determine that Colon’s bill was excessively high because the NYC DEP had retroactively billed her for the period her meter was broken at an average daily water flow rate that was higher than her typical usage.

“I’m so thankful to Senator Klein’s office,” Colon said. “Despite my many calls, it took years just to get the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to fix my indoor water meter.”

Klein’s office got the DEP to step in and make the situation right after they reinstalled the new water meter at her home in 2005.

“Once that was done, my bill incorrectly skyrocketed to over $5800.” Colon, who owns a home on the Cross Bronx Expressway, said. “At that point, I turned to Senator Klein for help. I couldn’t deal with the water situation any longer.”

The DEP reassessed the bill, and recalculated the daily usage. Coupled with waived late fees, Millie’s bill plummeted to $2998, nearly $2000 less than what the DEP initially estimated.

“Homeowners shouldn’t have to spend their valuable time endlessly contacting the DEP in order to ensure their meters are functioning and their water bills are accurate,” said Klein. “I’m pleased we were able to prompt the DEP to re-examine Millie’s bill and bring this situation to resolution.”

The senator’s office arranged for the homeowner to obtain a payment plan with the DEP for the $2998 balance that remained after the bill was adjusted. Colon will only have to pay for her current usage and 10% of the past due balance each billing cycle.

“The partnership between Senator Klein’s office and DEP helped us to replace a broken water meter with the installation of a new one,” said DEP spokeswoman Mercedes Padilla. “We estimated the average amount of use or reading at the home, which lead the way for a payment plan that helped resolve the matter.”

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