The City of Humboldt has given a one-time discount to a household who reported an unusually large water bill in June at around $750 – 113.3 cubic metres.
Peter Bergquist, Humboldt’s director of public works and utilities, said instances like this one typically happen between three to five times a year.
When occurrences like this are reported, the city uses an informal policy of a one-time discount which includes a discount that gives the excess water consumption at Saskwater cost (currently $3.8063/m³) rather than the retail charged (retail $5.28/m³), as well as a discount that gives the excess sanitary consumption at $0/m³, rather than the retail charge of $0.77/m³.
“In the majority of the instances that we have seen, a toilet is actively leaking with a resident and we can tell them, ‘If you’ve heard a toilet leak, watch it, monitor it, replace it,’” Bergquist said.
“The cost of a utility bill escalation can easily pay for the cost of replacing an entire toilet, so it’s very easy for residents to listen and to keep track of any types of appliances – particularly toilets.”
In this specific instance, Bergquist said they aren’t sure the cause of the high bill, which is typically around 10 m³/month for the property.
During the billing period, ownership of the house was changing hands and there was a period of time that the water service was on without anyone present. Previous water bills were normal, which indicated that something occurred in that time of transition.
While the water meter manufacturer has indicated to the city in the past that the meters can only fail in the resident’s financial favour by not reading water, it is impossible to read more than what goes through them.
Should a resident wish to challenge the meter reading, as the city indicated some have in the past, the City of Humboldt offers the option to send the meters to Saskatoon to get an unbiased test.
The resident is responsible for paying the bill for having it tested should the meter come back accurate. According to Bergquist, all meters he is aware of that have been sent in have come back accurate.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal