Greentown residents stop showering, flushing toilets due to high water bills

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GREENTOWN, Ind. (Oct. 16, 2015) -- Residents in a central Indiana town are fighting back against rising water bills.

"I freaked (out), because I didn't know how I was going to pay," Donna Hewitt said.

Hewitt, who lives in Greentown, got a water bill in the mail for $650 this month. She's still not sure why it was so high, though the town believes it may have been a broken faucet.

Her problem, though, is not unique. Across Greentown, water bills are going up, and $150 to $200 per month has become the norm.

"It’s not fun when you get a water bill that’s almost half of your mortgage," Liberty Township Trustee Troy Beachy said.

Beachy has been getting calls from people who can't pay their water bills and need help.

"People are crying, (saying) 'I don’t know how I’m going to do this, they’re going to shut my water off,'" Beachy said.

The reason for the rising bills is rising costs in the small town. In 2013, the town had to replace its entire sewer system and rates for sewer went up more than 80 percent. This summer, problems with the water system caused an additional 56 percent raise to water rates.

"We aren’t in a unique situation, many small communities in Indiana that have smaller customer bases struggle," Town Council President Scott Deyoe said in a June interview.

Beachy and Hewitt, though, think the solution could be for the town to sell off its utility to private company Indiana American Water. They started a petition that quickly garnered 100 signatures and the town has already called the company to ask for an appraisal.

The town council is expected to vote on the appraisal Tuesday. It should take around 90 days to complete and there's no guarantee the company would want to buy the system.

In the meantime, residents said they're doing whatever they can to keep their bills low.

"They don’t want to water their lawns, they’ll cut back on showers and washing dishes, just whatever they can do to save on their water usage," Beachy said.

"We don’t flush the toilet all the time, only when we do a number two. (We) can’t afford it," Hewitt said.

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