An angry licensee is struggling to keep his head above water after being ordered to pay £1,000 a month to cover the cost of a mystery leak.
Shannon Wells and his wife Caroline from the Red Lion in Overton near Basingstoke have been battling with Southern Water for a year after being landed with a £37,000 water bill.
The water company said it was for a leak at the pub but Shannon employed three separate teams and nobody could locate the problem. He estimates the disruption from the work led to a £1,000 drop in takings.
He said: "This took four weeks and the leak is supposedly gushing out water but we couldn't find any. There were no puddles or broken pipes.
"I thought that someone must have pushed an extra couple of buttons on the computer. I found it humorous to begin with."
After discussions with the company, the bill was reduced to £14,000. However, Southern Water later turned the pub's water off following a dispute over the payment plan, only turning it back on after discovering it was also a residential property.
Shannon has since struggled to pay £1,000 every month to cover the debt.
"I was unable to pay the staff a few weeks ago and we had to dip into our personal savings.
"If I hadn't had £1,000 pounds going out, that would not have been a problem. Bills are also coming in from December and this doesn't help at all."
A spokeswoman from Southern Water said: "Substantial arrears still need to be paid and we are working with Mr Wells to come to a payment agreement."