Escalating water and sewer bills have county officials concerned that there may be a problem lurking within the plumbing of the new courthouse facility.

Plumbing problems have plagued the new courthouse since the new facility opened its doors in July.

All warranty notices — including the replacement of malfunctioning flush valves and the correction of a problem that funnelled a constant flow of fresh water into the sewer system for more than two weeks — have been addressed, according to Bill Knowles, lead architect on the courthouse project.

“I don’t think you have a leak,” Knowles said. “If you did, the water would show up somewhere.”

However, water and sewer costs are up 176 percent since the majority of offices moved into the new facility.

Water usage has more than doubled and one monthly bill topped $10,000.

As the county worked through the anticipated “bugs” of the new facility, some plumbing issues were attributed to broken cinder blocks, rebar and miscellaneous debris found within the plumbing.

In previous meetings of the county commission, as commissioners became aware of the large amounts of debris that were being pulled from the new plumbing system, Earls eluded to possible sabotage of the system.

He said that he hoped the problems were temporary and, once all of the debris was removed, the problems would stop.

“We have got to find the problem,” Commission Chairman Russell Ears said.

Over the Christmas holiday, maintenance workers were instructed to shut off the water throughout both the new and old facilities and monitor the water meter to see if it showed evidence of water movement.

Tim Wilson, assistant city manager for the City of Miami, said that the city will check everything on its side of the meter for anything unusual.

“There are many variables to consider,” Wilson said. “There are many things that could cause the problem. We will do all we can to help find the problem.”

Currently, three offices are still operating in the old courthouse.

Maintenance supervisor Kenneth Leggett said last week that he had checked the old facility for leaks and found none.