News Feature | September 3, 2014

Delaware Man Fights $1K Water Bill After Sprinkler Malfunction: Should He Have To Pay?

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


A Delaware man is fighting a $1,049.67 water bill that arrived after his sprinkler system malfunctioned when he was away on vacation.

"In all, more than 100,000 gallons of water were dumped on their half-acre property," the News Journal reported

Joseph Uricheck, the ratepayer, decided to question Artesian Water, Delaware's largest private water utility, on whether he should have to pay the full cost.

"Sometimes, I just say enough is enough," he said in the report. "They're not Burger King or J.C. Penney or Sears. ... They are a monopoly, and they know it."

The response?

"Here is what he was told (in not so many words): Sorry, buddy. It's on you," the report said.

The bigger picture is that this conundrum "has implications for any average Joe who has received a monster bill from a plumbing malfunction, such as a burst washer hose or a leaking toilet," the report said.

"Artesian Vice President Joseph DiNunzio says the company's view is that the customer is responsible," the Associated Press reported.

Uricheck is not the first ratepayer distressed by massive bills related to infrastructure breakdowns. 

A man in Andover, KS, was "floored" when he opened his February bill, KWCH recently reported.

"The bill came for the month of February 2014 and said Matthew Agan owed $2,782.61 for using 195,000 gallons of water. It shows in January, he only used 7,500 gallons of water and a year ago only 2,250," the report said. 

The cause of the high reading remains a mystery. A plumber failed to find any leaks in Agan's home. 

Wichita Public Works and Utilities gave him a chance to lower his bill. 

"Agan said he provided the water department with documentation from the plumber and that knocked his bill down to $1,000, but said he still feels like he is paying for water he never used," the report said. 

Image credit: "Sprinkler" Monkey Mash Button © 2011, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license:

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