City sued over 'hidden' water charges

A lawsuit filed this week claims that the city of Atlanta has been taxing its own water department to raise nearly $59 million. It claims the costs were passed on to ratepayers.

The suit, filed by two Atlanta water customers, says the city has treated its Department of Watershed Management as if it were a private utility.

“As a practical matter, the notion of the city of Atlanta charging itself a fee for the use of its own city-owned streets, right-of-ways and alleys is plainly nonsensical,” the suit says. The city has no authority under state law or the state constitution to collect such fees from the watershed department, the suit says.

The fees are hidden from ratepayers; that is, there's no line on water bills that says "city fees" or "city taxes," the suit says. The action asks that the city be compelled to refund the $59 million to ratepayers. A spokeswoman said the city has not been served with the lawsuit. Typically the city does not comment on pending litigation.

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