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Elderly woman receives quick results after calling 6 On Your Side about sky-high water bill

Updated: Feb. 20, 2017 at 8:45 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Thursday we told you about 74-year-old Johnnie Coleman's sky high water bill.

She says her blood pressure shot up when saw it was close to $1,000 last month. Hours after our report, Coleman says her phone started ringing. Someone from Birmingham Water Works was on the other end.

"In less than 24 hours the wheels of the mechanics of the people spoke up and things began to work out for me," Coleman said.

Coleman hired a plumber and she says he didn't find a leak. Monday, Birmingham Water Works showed up and found a small leak in the valve of her hot water heater. The water works says that leak, not its billing issues, is why her bill is so high.

Their spokesman explains they looked at her average usage in their investigation.

"When it went up to that point we knew that something was out of range. Either we misread her meter wrong because it could be human error. We read the meter once a month or you could have a leak," Rick Jackson, a spokesperson for the Birmingham Water Works Board, said.

Coleman still finds that hard to believe but is thankful the leak is fixed. We're told the water works H2O Foundation is stepping in to help some of Coleman's water bill.

"The wheels are now in motion. I'm joyful and I'm hopeful that it continues to pan out to be a good thing. I'm hoping they are being honest with me. If not I'll be screaming bloody murder," Coleman added.

"Ms. Coleman will receive an adjustment on her bill for having a leak. We will put a protection on her account to give her time because I know she's only used to paying a certain amount," Jackson said.

We didn't see any water leaking from Coleman's hot water heater. The water works says with these types of leaks, you will not find any standing water because the leak is on the inside.

Jackson says the water works hasn't cut off anyone's water since October because of the billing issues. He is very optimistic that system will be back to normal by March 1.

If customers feel their bills are too high, Jackson suggests checking your meter. If the water is cut off in your home and the red dial on the meter is still moving, then odds are you have a leak.

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