By Team

SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – Bloated water bills are going out to some Broward County residents. And while they’re a mistake, it’s still causing headaches for the families who just got them.

It seems pretty clear something is not right with the Sunrise Utilities Department.

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Eric Gonzalez of Weston hasn’t done anything differently relative to water usage. But his eye-popping water bill suggests a different soggy story.

“Went up by almost 50%,” he said. “The last bill, it shows that I spent 37,000 gallons… and I wasn’t here.”

Gonzalez was on vacation but somehow Sunrise said his usage skyrocketed by 23,000 gallons.

Last year, month to month, the Gonzalez’s averaged less than 13,000 gallons.

His kids are grown, so it’s just him and his wife. He wasn’t filling his pool or running the sprinklers.

He’s spoken with sunrise several times, including Wednesday morning.

The utility told him he might have a leak, but he showed CBS4’s Keith Jones his water meter and there was no evidence of a leak.

So Gonzalez requested the water department come check his meter and was slapped with a fee.

“If they come here to check, they put some kind of device to check the meter, they say they have to charge me $25. And I said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘You’re going to check and then charge me $25 more? This is unbelievable’” he recalled.

It’s not just Gonzalez who feels he’s getting hosed.

Hundreds of customers across Sunrise, parts of Davie, Lauderhill, Southwest Ranches, Tamarac and Weston would flush away their over inflated bills.

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On the app Nextdoor, people reported water bills as high as $1500.

And some customers are afraid to be flooded with late fees, which is why they’re showing up in person to pay bills.

“My bill was always $200, maximum $250,” said Adriana Lloyd-Spill, a Weston resident. “And the last one was $558.”

Lloyd-Spill said she’s done absolutely nothing different, adding “I don’t have leaks on the house.”

In fact, Lloyd-Spill was told she had a leak. However, no one from the utility bothered to check until she requested it.

“They went to my house. They checked for leaks outside, I guess, and they told me that they didn’t find anything different,” she said.

She’s stuck with an almost $600 bill, which she’s only paying a portion.

“I called and they told me what I usually pay and told me to dispute the bill of $550. That’s what I’m going to do,” she said.

So what in the water world is going on?

Sunrise Utilities nor the mayor would go on camera, but they did issue a statement.

In it, the department accepts full responsibility and apologizes for its new billing software, saying: “Our new Utility Billing system roll-out has been less than satisfactory and for that, we apologize.”

It says the system is full of glitches, admitting: “…recurring credit card payments are not working, the customer portal is not user friendly and locks customers out, payments made on the portal are not showing up immediately, bill generation is taking three times longer than the previous system, and basic system reporting is not functional.”

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Customers say it’s great the city is accepting responsibility, but that’s not helping inaccurate and bubbling bills. Team