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Henderson Co. neighbors upset over water bills

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HENDERSON COUNTY (KYTX) -- Neighbors in the Cherokee Shores subdivision near Mabank are upset by what they believe are uneven and unfair billing practices by their water provider, Monarch Utilities, which is a branch of SouthWest Water Company.

Line by line, Patti Woods showed us her Monarch water bill Thursday. It showed 23,000 gallons of water--with a price tag of $350--billed to her, her daughter and her boyfriend in one month.

Woods' friend Robin Merrill brought her bill too. They're both convinced that Monarch water is cheating them.

"I can't talk to them. Most people can't," Woods said. "They got a hold of me one time to try to settle the bill with me which did not work."

Woods is against a settlement on principle. She has no grass, no pool, and refuses to fill her bathtub.

"[I] shower and wash clothes," she said. "I don't even really cook."

"There's a neighbor that just filled a pool up," Merrill said. "He put 20,000 gallons of water in a pool and he had to pay $120."

Without a different offer from Monarch, Woods says she's out of luck.

"I can't afford it," she said. "I'm going to lose my water. My water will be shut off because I can't pay it. And you have to have water to live."

Monarch representatives told CBS 19 they worked with Woods to find a leak inside her home.

"This shows why it is so important for customers to take action when a leak is discovered. Even a small, half-gallon-per-minute leak can add up to more than 20,000 gallons during a 30-day billing cycle," Monarch Utilities East Director of Operations Ryan Quigley said.

"Monarch has been in communication with this customer to determine that she does have a leak, and we have worked out a payment plan. As a next step, this customer is eligible for Monarch's 'leak relief program,' which offers bill-pay assistance to customers who show documentation that a leak has been fixed."

Woods denies that there was ever a leak.

Through last September, Monarch recorded normal water usage around 2,000 gallons a month. But last August there was another spike almost identical to the one that happened this year. Woods did not live in the home last August.

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