BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Ernest Giese has lived in his Beaverton home since 1977. The Korean War vet, now 91, prides himself on always paying his bills on time.

His wife died a few years ago. He kept paying the bills, including eye-popping bi-monthly water bills as high as $895.

He began to lose his eyesight in December 2020. That’s when he asked his daughter to help him write checks. But she immediately knew something was wrong because the water bills had been sky high for years.

His daughter, Mary Anderson, “about cried” when she first saw a gigantic water bill.

Ernest Giese, 91, was hit with gigantic water bills for years at his Beaverton home until his daughter discovered the problem was leaking pipes, October 4, 2021 (KOIN)

It turns out the home’s waterpipes had been leaking for years. Replacing them cost Giese nearly $19,000. Anderson wonders why the water company didn’t notice and didn’t say anything about the leaking problem.

Officials with the Tualatin Valley Water District told KOIN 6 News they have a leak adjustment program but it’s only triggered when a bill suddenly triples.

In this case, the water usage kept increasing slowly over the course of years.

The water district issued a $621 refund to Giese, but that’s a drop in the bucket to the nearly $20,000 in water bills he’s paid over the past several years.

Now, Giese and Anderson hope their story will inspire people to double check their water bills — and especially the bills of aging family members. They said the financial hardship from this has been severe.