71-year-old Los Angeles widow loses running water over $11,000 bill, survives by toting 50 gallons a week
California may be facing a water crisis, but a 71-year-old Los Angeles widow’s struggle to pay for utilities has taught her just how precious the natural resource can be.
Doris Tillman told The Los Angeles Times that she was forced to stop paying for water after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power sent her a bill for $11,000. She just assumed that the enormous bill must be a mistake.
DWP cut off her water last August. To survive, the 71-year-old woman hauls 50 gallons each week from a nearby water machine — at a cost of about 25 cents a gallon.
“I’m going to write a book on how to survive in L.A. without water,” Tillman joked.
She has enrolled in swimming lessons at the local rec center, where she can use the shower. She also has taken showers at yoga class and at her daughter’s home. When she’s at home, Tillman has learned that she can heat about 3.5 gallons of water on the stove for a bath.
Rinsing requires another gallon of water, she said.
“I take one bath a week,” she explained, adding that she took a sponge bath other days.
“In using the toilet, I used to go at the drop of a hat,” Tillman noted. “Now I hold it in until there’s more serious things that have to happen.”
To make matters worse, Tillman lost her job and has a $7,000 plumbing bill for leaky pipes.
DWP has offered to negotiate to turn Tillman’s water back on, but she doesn’t know how she can make the payments without a job.
“No one’s hiring a 71-year-old person,” she lamented.
Watch the video below from the Los Angeles Times, broadcast May 23, 2015.