Resident refunded for high water bill

By Karen Fallon

Willow Beach resident Susan Widawski sought a refund for her 2011 water and sewage bill in the amount of $1,048 from council at its Aug 15 meeting.

Widawski says her average water usage is around three meters yet she was billed for 437 meters of water which when combined with the sewage charge came to $1,165. This is enough water, she explained, to almost fill ten good sized swimming pools.

According to the town the meters on Willow Beach Road are read and billed quarterly. Because of the high usage noted by Essex Power the meter was reread on April 1, noted  Lou Zarlenga, director of engineering and infrastructure in a report to council.

According Zarlenga, the unexplained water usage that has occurred after the water meter can be caused by a number of issues such as, leaks in piping, running toilets, dripping faucets or outside taps being left on. It has been the past practice of public works to rebate the sewage block charges on unnoticed water leaks within the private property based on the average usage over a 12 billing period time frame.

Zarlenga recommended that Widawski receive a reduction in the cost of the sewage block charge of 437 cubic meters and be issued a credit of $701.96.

“I guess the bottom line is, the history is consistent of  our water usage,” said Widawski. “There are no water pipes broken and we keep the home in good repair and we come here for just summer use.”

Dwayne Grondin, the town’s sewer and watermain superintendent says the meter was sent away for testing and it was found to be in working order.

However, noted Widawski, since a new meter has been installed the water usage has gone back to its previous readings.

Widawski, says after talking with Grondin, they could not reach “an acceptable resolution,” therefore she asked to appear before council.

Councillor Carolyn says if rebated for only the sewer portion Widawski, will still “get dinged for a fair amount of water.”

“Obviously if she hasn’t made any changes to her pipes this new meter should be going up the same,” said Davies. “I can’t help but believe it was a fault of the meter.”

“Four hundred and seven cubic meters is a lot of water,” said Councillor Robert Pillon.  “If that was leaking that much there there would have been evidence on the ground?”

“I really truly believe the meter malfunctioned and I don’t think it is justified that she should have to still pay the four hundred and some dollars for water, that is a lot of money,” he continued.

Council agreed to refund Widawski $1,048.

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