Man Sues City Over Water Shut-off

Scott E. Williams. Galveston County Daily News. December 17, 2006

An island man is suing the city, charging that officials wrongfully left him high and dry.

William Billings’ suit claims that a week after he moved into an apartment in the 700 block of Ball Street in August, his landlord reported the water meter leaking.

The leak stopped shortly thereafter. However, Billing’s suit asserts a city worker went to his residence a week after that and removed the water meter completely, leaving him without water, without warning.

The suit claims Billings later found not way to appeal the water department’s insistence that he pay a $240 bill incurred by a previous resident.

City spokeswoman Alicia Foyt said no one with the city could comment because of the pending lawsuit.

“The city has just learned of the litigation and is in the process of reviewing the matter,” she said.

However, Foyt did say the water department’s policy was to issue a “10-day letter” to warn delinquent water customers of a possible termination of service.

She also said the letter advised customers of an administrative “dispute and appeal system.”

“As you can see, shutting off water to a customer is a last resort, not something the city takes lightly,” Foyt said.

Attorney Steve McIntyre, with the nonprofit group Lone Star Legal Aid, represents Billings. McIntyre said the only notice in this case when to the landlord, with Billings not realizing a problem existed until his taps stopped working.

McIntyre said he hoped to work with the city to resolve the problem.