Detroit water dept admits error charging man thousands for vacant homes

Image 1 of 3

A contractor was hit with water bills totaling thousands of dollars for a couple of vacant Detroit houses he owns.

Now it looks like the Detroit water department is admitting a mistake - now he's finally getting some relief.

"This was devastating to my family and I, almost $3,000 - that’s a lot of money to me," said Chuck Brooks.

He was incorrectly charged almost $3,000 and Chuck Brooks had the bills to prove it. He first contacted FOX 2 all the way back in April when the water department was demanding thousands of dollars for two vacant properties where he was barely using any water. 

He says in March; he was told he used 79,000 gallons of water. He kept calling and visiting the water department to no avail.

"I said, you all made a mistake, and immediately they said no you made the mistake and you got a bill to pay," Brooks said.

So he called FOX 2 and it was pretty obvious to us that the bills were woefully inaccurate. The average family of two uses 4,000 per month. But when we contacted the water department, they insisted the new meters installed at these homes on Mapleridge and Spring Garden were working properly.

"The meter is working fine; the reads are accurate. He's used this type of water for the last three months," said Marc-Antonie Cooper with Detroit Water and Sewerage.

But he didn't, and he wasn't about to stop fighting. With the help of FOX 2, a special hearing was scheduled. 

But before that happened, he received letters stating the water department was wrong -- that they had charged him for 259 units instead of 2.59 units, taking his bill down from nearly $2,200 to less than $300.

"They clearly overcharged me and there was no way that I used that water," Brooks said. "When I saw the letters I just cried tears of joy because I said our prayers have been answered."

Detroit Water and Sewerage tells FOX 2 the meters were not malfunctioning but rather it was a programming error that has since been corrected, along with the bills at both homes.

"We kept fighting but it was truly a fight," Brooks said. "You wouldn't let up on this - you helped us right a wrong and we surely appreciate that.

"I just wish more people would fight and pray and also call FOX 2 to expose this kind of mess because I know it's not just happening to me."