Havana residents react to pricy water bills, claim city is taking ‘advantage of’ them

Digital Originals

HAVANA, Ill. — Havana residents are dealing with pricy water bills.

Residents Galen and Barbara Rowe received a hefty water bill at a property the family owns on April 26, totaling $7673.86.

“This is terrible people are being taken advantage of,” Barbara said. “We were stunned, ultimately stunned.”

They said no one was living in the home at the time.

“Nothing’s hooked up, the water lines disconnected, the electricity is disconnected, the sewer lines are disconnected [because] we’re remodeling,” she said. “So we went to a board meeting and said ‘hey, we can’t afford to pay this, this is ridiculous there was sabotage.'”

Barbara said she was told the pipes froze and burst, but she thinks there is more to the story.

“Somehow I feel somebody did that, somehow they knocked that thing off, and poof, it was full-force for 29 days,” she said.

Five years ago, the city spent nearly $300,000 on a new water system. According to the Mason County Democrat, the system was meant to make it easier to catch unusual spikes in water use. However, in order to tell if there is a leak, the city must check the meters in person. And despite the system showing excessively high flow, the Rowes said they were never notified.

“They never came out to look or anything until they realized we didn’t want to pay that bill,” Barbara said.

As seen in the chart below, there are unusual spikes in water usage.

For others in Havana that received high water bills, it was the last straw.

“People have moved out right and left,” she said. “We know people that have up and moved away that are so fed up.”

She said the city offered to reduce the payment to $5,176, or hand over the deed to their property.

“We’re not paying it, they’re not getting our land, and we will seek an attorney,” she said.

The Rowes’ hope this issue is solved soon as they plan for the future.

“We’re not comfortable here anymore we’re not happy anymore,” Barbara said. “Sell out and move eventually as soon as all this is hopefully taken care of.”

We have reached out to Havana mayor Brenda Stadsholt several times, but she said she is not going to comment at this time.

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