Family fights $1,500 water bill after installation of new pipes

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Months of high bills and headaches led a mother and daughter to contact CBS4 Problem Solvers for help.

In December, after years of paying around $60 a month for water and sewer, their bill suddenly spiked to $250. It went from there, racking up more than $400 in both January and February. Their latest bill cost $1,500 and included a disconnection notice.

The mother and daughter, who are disabled, asked FOX59 not to name them. They said contractors with Citizens Energy Group spent months replacing the pipes in their neighborhood, just before the bill spiked.

In videos the daughter took over the course of two months, contractors can be seen coming to the home. She said the landlord hired someone to dig into the yard, where he found a leak near the newly connected pipes.

In one video, contractors say the leak appears to be the homeowner's responsibility, but the daughter said no one at the home did any work, so she believed it was the installation of the new pipes that caused the leak.

They ended up filing a complaint with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, or IURC, and another contractor said he had to wait on that decision before he fixed it, leading crews to leave without fixing the leak.

"We’re tired of dealing with them so we had to come to you guys to get ... the ball rolling," the daughter said. "I was amazed at how they can just leave it leaking."

FOX59 reached out to a Citizens Energy Group spokesperson, and the next morning crews showed up once again to the family's home, only this time they did fix the leak.

"You shouldn't have any problem now," a supervisor said to the family.

While FOX59 was at the home, the company's spokesperson also sent an email saying they would take care of the bill.

"Wow, that's awesome," the daughter said. "Obviously we're going to fight for what's right. That's why I always said, 'David versus Goliath.'"

The spokesperson for the company sent this full statement:

"Citizens Energy Group has repaired the customer’s service line leak. We also adjusted their bill to eliminate charges for water wasted from the leak, and we contacted the customer to let them know to expect an adjusted bill. From the time the complaint was filed with the IURC, a hold was placed on the account preventing service from being disconnected while the claim was under investigation.

We certainly regret any inconvenience and concern this unfortunate situation caused our customer."