Northern Arizona University student hit with $16K water bill

Northern Arizona University student hit with $16K water bill

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -

An Arizona college student is drowning in debt. Not because of student loans, but because of a $16,000 water bill.

The NAU student and his roommates were shocked when they received the bill. The utility company claims they used more than a million gallons of water.

The city of Flagstaff has never seen anything like it -- about a million gallons of city water used at one home billed to one man. It's the amount of water about 200 homes would typically use. This man says he shouldn't have to pay for any of it.

Robert Peer is getting ready to graduate from college. But it's not his final exams that have him worried.

"I'm still a little jittery from the shock," says Robert Peer.

Shock from a water bill, totaling $16,000, all in his name. The bill could drown him in debt all before he even graduates.

"Just having the bill just hang over my head, I don't know what going to happen with it," he says.

Peer says he and his three roommates use about 6,000 gallons of water a month in this house they rent, a bill of about $80.

But according to the city of Flagstaff, the home's meter recorded 1.4 million gallons of water.

"It's equivalent to 30,000 gallons of water a day to filling a swimming pool each day, getting rid of it and filling it again for a month," says Kimberly Ott, city spokesperson.

When Peer got the bill, he said water pressure seemed normal. No leaky faucets. He said nothing seemed wrong with the pipes.

"I honestly didn't see it coming, there's no water damage out front. We didn't hear anything. There was no sign."

Peer called the property owner -- and a plumber came and discovered a broken pipe underneath the house and fixed it.

But he's still on the hook for $16,000. He's telling the city he can't pay and hoping they clear his name.

"The bottom line is we want to find a solution so no one is bearing the brunt of this huge bill and huge water loss."

City officials say they are trying to work something out with the property owner and home insurance company.

Now Peer is trying to keep his head above water and focus on his final days of school.

Amazingly, you can't see any signs of water leaks or damage at the home. City officials say the water went deep underground and they say there were no signs of a problem until they processed the bill.


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