Did you know that certain people should not drink water from the tap before they talk to their doctor? One man checked and was told do not drink it without filtering it. That’s when he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser to see who had to pay for the extra filtering.

WSVN — When you hear what David Runkle has survived over the past few years, it’s clear the man is a fighter.

David Runkle: “Chemo and radiation for a year, intense chemo and radiation for a year.”

Cancer, and then…

David Runkle: “I was covered with Kaposi’s Sarcoma. I had lesions all over my body, my face was completely deformed.”

The reason…

David Runkle: “I have AIDS. I don’t have HIV.”

And yet, he just keeps plugging along.

David Runkle: “I should be dead. I am not supposed to be alive right now.”

David’s latest roadblock came when he got this information from the Fort Lauderdale Water Department which said to be careful about drinking the water if…

David Runkle: “It said anybody with HIV or anybody on chemo or radiation, anybody immune compromised, any senior citizen. The list went on so long it’s like who doesn’t it include? Who is allowed to drink the water?

The warning from Fort Lauderdale, which supplies the drinking water to Wilton Manors said if you have one of those medical conditions, contact your doctor before you drink the water. David did.

David Runkle: “I did. I spoke to my doctor and he said do not use the water without it being filtered.”

David called the city. They said buy a filtration system. David responded.

David Runkle: “I think it’s only fair to ask for them to pay for the filtration system, not me. Why is that my responsibility? I’m paying for clean water.”

David didn’t buy a filtration system to be stubborn. He is on disability and gets a lot of his food from a food bank. In other words, not only does he struggle with his health, he struggles financially.

David Runkle: “I can’t afford to go out and buy water. I’m already paying for clean water to come into my house. I don’t believe I should pay a second time for clean water.”

David can’t drink the drinking water so does he have to pay for it, or legally does the public utility have to provide for additional filtration to make it safer for people like him?

Howard Finkelstein: “The law says no they don’t. The State and Federal Government create water standards that don’t make healthy people sick, and as long as the water meets those federal standards, the public utility does not have to pay for filtration systems for people who have unique medical conditions.”

First, we checked with other water departments. Turns out, they all send out the same warning. Some, if you request it, but Fort Lauderdale sends it to everyone.

I spoke to a Fort Lauderdale official who told me the city continues to meet all federal and state primary drinking water standards. Adding, I am not aware of any public utility that has a separate water distribution infrastructure to serve persons with compromised immune systems.

When I told him David was upset he was paying for drinking water he could not drink he said, “the utility customer is only paying for water utilized. If the consumer is not drinking the water, there will likely be less usage and a lower water bill.”

David Runkle: “There’s a lot more people are drinking water that should not be, and not realizing it.”

David lost the battle to get the city to pay for his filtration system, but he did get some good news. With his house in foreclosure, he fought Fannie Mae. The battler came out on top.

David Runkle: “Fannie Mae tried to take my house and I won. After a six year fight they gave me my home, free and clear.”

No mortgage, not bad. And if you have a health issue and your doctor says don’t drink tap water and you don’t want to pay to have it filtered, make sure you check the bottled water before you buy it. Some brands have the same warning that municipal water systems send out about their water. And remember that tap water is perfectly safe for almost everyone. David is an exception.

Problems pouring into your life? Tapped out when it comes to solutions? Make a splash with us. Hopefully in all those years of law school Howard soaked up a little legal knowledge.


E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com

Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN

Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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