Tiny house with one faucet gets $36K water bill
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Tiny house with one faucet gets $36K water bill

Sep 29, 2023

Stella N. Beloy, 85, shows the $36,509.81 water bill she received from the Guam Waterworks Authority.

HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Stella N. Beloy, 85, has been living by herself in a wood-and-tin house in Yigo since her husband died in May 2020, so she was shocked and felt helpless when she learned her water bill suddenly spiked to more than $7,000, and then to more than $10,000 a month, starting in December 2020.

Prior to that, her monthly water bill was about $28 to $29, she said, which she paid regularly.

She showed her latest Guam Waterworks Authority billing, which states she now owes GWA $36,509.81.

GWA General Manager Miguel Bordallo, in response to The Guam Daily Post's questions about Stella Beloy's water bills, via email and by phone call, said this is an "unfortunate" situation and that GWA's review of the billings against the properly functioning water meter data logs confirmed that the meter data was accurately billed and that leak alerts were provided to the customer with each billing.

Bordallo said GWA crews are not authorized to conduct leakage testing on private plumbing systems, but can only examine the meter connection for any leakage.

"GWA does not have the authority to conduct leak testing on private premise plumbing, nor do we have the authority to provide repair services on the private plumbing," he said.

GWA crews went to Stella Beloy's site in May and June to retrieve data from the meter log and to exchange and test the water meter. The water meter was subjected to three water flow tests, and passed all three.

"GWA will investigate the customer's situation further and will make adjustment to the account if there are any facts supporting that a credit should be issued," Bordallo said.

But Bordallo said, up to this point, no credit is warranted for the customer.

Bordallo wanted to stress that GWA has been wanting to help customers such as Stella Beloy, so that they don't get caught in the cycle of water leaks and high water bills.

GWA has been petitioning the Public Utilities Commission to approve its Customer Assistance Program that includes a leak detection and repair program for customers needing such assistance and, Bordallo said, this is a program that will and can benefit customers such as Stella Beloy.

PUC hasn't approved the program.

"We hope the Guam Post and rest of the community will support our efforts to implement this Customer Assistance Program. We understand the hardship that many of our customers go through and we are proactively trying to provide solutions to help them," Bordallo said.

Log: 1,000 gallons per hour

He said data retrieved from the data log on Stella Beloy's meter confirmed the continuous water usage from December 2020 to mid-March 2021, and the hourly usage averaged over 1,000 gallons per hour.

A Tuesday morning visit by The Guam Daily Post to Stella Beloy's house on Kayen Gubetno Carl T. Gutierrez in Yigo shows only one working faucet, located outdoors.

From that faucet, she uses a bucket to collect and bring water inside the house.

So it's still a puzzle to her, she said, that GWA started charging more than $10,000 a month.

"I never stole even a cent of water from them. That's for sure. I paid my water bill," Stella Beloy said, referring to her water bill of less than $30 a month.

There were also days when she wouldn't shower, so there's not much water being used in the house, which also does not have a washing machine or any appliances that use water, she said.

To make sure her water doesn't get disconnected, she continues to pay GWA about $29 a month.

Stella Beloy's son, Eutiquio Beloy Jr., who's currently residing in Hawaii, said via phone that when he last visited his mother in Guam in May 2021, he went to GWA's Upper Tumon office, seeking assistance about what he said were erroneous monthly water bills for his mother.

Several months later, GWA continues to send Stella Beloy the unusually high bills for a one-faucet house.

It's been a source of stress and frustration for Stella Beloy, she said.

She said if GWA could read her story and her struggles, she hopes GWA would help her maintain the monthly billing of less than $30.

An electronic history of Stella Beloy's water bills, provided by her son, shows that starting in December 2020, her water bill suddenly shot up to $7,237.04.

In January 2021, the billing went up to $10,491.

Her water bills for February and March 2021 also reached $9,238.89 and $9,023, respectively.

It went down to $34.74 in April and then back to $28.06 in May, before going up to $377.47 in June and to $96.54 in July, before going back to the pre-spike billing of about $28 a month since then.

'One of the poorest residents in Yigo'

"My mom is one of the poorest residents in Yigo and she will not be able to pay that water bill," her son, Eutiquio Beloy Jr., told The Guam Daily Post.

The son said the family continues to ask GWA to help his mother.

"My mother is in her late 80s. I hope GWA looks closely into her situation and not insist that she pays a water bill that's now $36,000 because there's no way she could have used that much water because she's by herself and she lives in a small house," Eutiquio Beloy Jr. said in a phone interview.

He visited his mother in Guam in May 2021, for the first death anniversary of his father.

"She's also told that she has to hire a private contractor to detect and fix the leak, and report to GWA," the son said.

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