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Woman takes town to small claims court over huge water bill

EDGEWOOD, Ind. -- A central Indiana woman is fighting her hometown, after she received a $990 water bill she says didn't make any sense.

For a week last September, Anessa Jacobs' water meter showed that she used the same amount of water every hour that most homes use in a day.

"I started pumping 200 plus gallons of water an hour," Jacobs said. "And that was consistent (for) an entire week."

For months, no one has been able to tell Jacobs why the water use spiked. In fact, she said she was home that week and didn't notice anything running. It wasn't until she got the bill in the mail that she knew anything was wrong.

"We still don't know why the spike (happened)," Jacobs said.

Jacobs' bill was consistently around $100, ever since she moved to the town of Edgewood, outside Anderson, a year and a half ago with her son.

She came to CBS4 because she's decided to take the town to small claims court and said she doesn't think she's been treated fairly considering there is still not explanation for the usage.

"We just think there's something wrong here," Jacobs' attorney, John Woods, said.

CBS4 Problem Solvers started looking into reasons the water usage could spike so much. We talked to three plumbers who all said it was a huge amount of water and that the case puzzled them. They suggested a water softener or back up sump pump could malfunction without a homeowner noticing, but Jacobs doesn't have either of those systems in her home.

David Heffner, who owns Heffner Plumbing, said an issue causing that big of a leak is unlikely to fix itself.

"When you have 240 gallons an hour, there’s obviously something wrong," Heffner said.

Without an explanation, Jacobs said she will continue to fight against the bill. She's also providing a lesson that can be passed on to all homeowners.

Every week, she goes down to her basement to check her meter, writing down the numbers and keeping track of her usage. She said she wished she had known more about her water system before all this, so she could've caught the problem early or provided definitive proof that it wasn't her fault.

"I'm just seeking justice ... so that it doesn't happen to anybody else," Jacobs said.

She'll go to small claims court with her lawyer in March.

Heffner agreed that it's a good idea to get to know your water system, especially where you can turn your water off if you go on vacation or in case of an emergency. He said most homeowners he talks to have almost no knowledge of how their system really works.

"A majority of people have no clue. ... Unless there’s an issue, people just don’t think about it," Heffner said.

Watch the video below for more tips from Heffner to monitor your own usage:

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