Innisfail British Columbia - Faulty Water meters & Wastewater Bills

This article concerns a resident in Innisfail, British Columbia, Canadawho has problems with crippling bills not only for water but also for wastewater.  Old faulty meters and the cost for replacement and wastewater charges may be something the present Oireachtas Committee on Domestic Water Charges should be considering. 

Water meter anger resurfaces

Local realtor battling town hall over recent bill

Eva Austin inspects a water meter. The local realtor has heard several complaints about high water bills in recent months and is concerned over water meter issues with the town.

Eva Austin inspects a water meter. The local realtor has heard several complaints about high water bills in recent months and is concerned over water meter issues with the town.

INNISFAIL – The alarm has been raised again over water bill issues in the community.

However, Heather Whymark, director of corporate services for the Town of Innisfail, says the challenges are partly due to the meter conversion that was implemented in the town between 2014 and 2016.

“Quite a few of the meters were not working properly. They shut down, they crashed, that’s what happens to (old) meters,” said Whymark. “When the new meters started going in, people started getting bills that they thought were atrocious. Their water meter hadn’t been working and they hadn’t been paying for the water they’d been using probably for five years.”

“They started getting bills of consumption and that’s when everyone started saying the town was overbilling them.”

Jerry Rochette is one Innisfail resident that has had problems with water bills in the past.

“When you know you don’t have a leak and they’re charging you for water going out. How can that be, when no water has come in because no one is living there?” said Rochette, referring to a previously vacant property. “It happened just about every bill.

“I have had high water bills,” he added.

The water bill issue in Innisfail has been in the media spotlight for the last couple of years.

Eva Austin is a local realtor who is bringing the issue to light once again after she was charged more than $2,100 for two water bills last November and December.

Like Rochette, Austin’s issue is with a vacant house. The house has been vacant since June 2016 and between then and this past Nov. 3 there was no usage in water or sewer, noted Austin. It then jumped to 20,000 to 21,000 litres a day until Nov. 10.

Austin is certain there is a problem with the meter itself.

“The meter is not accurate and I’m not taking that old meter back,” said Austin. “I’m totally dumbfounded about it.”

The town has disputed Austin’s claims, telling her she either had a broken line, a running toilet or someone was stealing her water.

They did agree to sit down and talk with Austin on Jan. 23 to go over her recent water bills.

Austin asked for a new meter, which the town agreed to. The town did two tests on her old meter and each passed, noted Whymark, adding the new system in place is automated.

One other area to note is the recent increase in sewer costs, said Whymark. The town now charges $2.30 per cubic metre for water and $3.40 for sewer.

The sewer impact on a water bill is not always noticed, she added.

“Water really isn’t what’s beating your bills to death. It’s the sewer (charges),” said Whymark, noting she wants the public to understand the importance of checking for leaky pipes, running toilets and related items.

Whymark said they have installed a new water meter at Austin’s property and will monitor it for the next three months for any issues.

If Austin does not have a problem during that time, she will be fully reimbursed, said Whymark.

Austin said she inquired about a possible warning system to alert residents to high usage, and she also asked about a test or an audit on the automated system.

“I do an audit every year when I do budget,” said Whymark. “If that consumption was way out of whack compared to what we pay (the commission) then yes, I’d say the system is (faulty).”

Austin said she was pleased the town will monitor the new meter.

“That’s very good if they do that. Then we can prove that there is nothing running in the house,” said Austin. “It’s not about me. To me, it’s an issue in the town. Many people are fighting their water bills.”

Source: Innisfail Province Jan 31 2017