Water Bill Totaling More Than $77,000 Shocks Local Homeowner

June 13, 2018, 10:33 am EST | Share:

JOHNS ISLAND, SC (CAROLINE BALCHUNAS, WTAT-TV) — Many of us opt for paperless billing because it’s more convenient and easy. But you have to be careful and check your statements often.

A man who recently moved into a new home on Johns Island received a hefty water bill for more than $77,000.

“I’ve experienced just about everything you can experience in a move,” said Steve Cardwell, who knows a new home comes with new expenses.

But he did not expect a water bill totaling $77,567.64.

“9,900,000 gallons of water. That would take that lake and drain it twice,” he said of the supposed water usage.

The sticker shock quickly turned into anxiety. He had to wait for 48-hours until St. John’s Water Company opened Monday morning.

“My worst fear was they were going to hold my feet to the fire for $77,000, which I have no way of paying,” he said. “I was kind of pacing the floors for a little while. I calmed myself down and said okay, I know this is a mistake.”

As it turns out, he wasn’t using that much water. The problem was with the water meter and it’s happened to other homeowners.

The company replaced his water meter and corrected his balance. “They charged me what I got last month — $18.67,” he said with a laugh.

From worry to relief, and now a lesson. Paying bills the old fashioned way might not be such a hassle.

The outcome could have been much different if he paid online and utilized online services like auto-draft.

“First of all, they couldn’t have gotten $77,000 out of my checking account. But what they would have taken out was everything I had in it, I’m sure. Then I would have really been up the creek without a paddle because I would have been out of money and pretty much out of luck.”