Winnipeg man wants utility credit after filling pool with 'chicken noodle soup' water

A Winnipeg man believes the city should compensate him for the costs of filling his above-ground pool after he left it unattended to fill, only to come back later and find the pool water was badly discoloured.

Chris Gleeton said he turned on the backyard hose at his East Kildonan home on Sunday to fill up his pool, which takes about eight cubic meters of water. When he came back later to turn it off, he immediately noticed something wasn't right. 

"It's brown, it looks like chicken noodle soup, it's gross," he told CBC News on Tuesday. 

Gleeton said he called the city's Water and Waste Department and his city councillor asking for a credit on his bill. He believes it cost him about $50 to fill the pool, after consulting the city's website to calculate the costs based on his usage. 

"I phoned them and I said, 'Look I got 7.9 cubic metres of brown water, I don't want to pay for that because now I have to drain my pool and refill it and pay again.' They said flat-out they do not do credit," said Gleeton. "There's zero situation in which they will issue a credit." 

The city said it received two calls regarding discoloured water in East Kildonan on Sunday.

In a statement, City of Winnipeg spokesperson Michelle Finley said it should only cost $36.50 to fill the pool, based on 2018 water and sewer rates and confirmed the city does not reimburse customers. 

"The city does not reimburse for discoloured water because the cost of water is low and the discoloured water can be used for other purposes such as watering plants or the lawn," she said. 

Finley also suggested homeowners keep an eye on their taps and hoses when they are in use. 

"Because filling a pool will increase the normal flow of water to a property, we would recommend that homeowners filling pools or ponds monitor their filling activity because discoloured water usually doesn't last long." 

Finley said in an email to CBC News that discoloured water can be caused by sediment released by a change in the flow of water in the system, sometimes caused by water main breaks, firefighting or water main cleaning.

Gleeton said he wasn't aware of any construction in his neighbourhood last weekend. He said he tried shocking the water before deciding to drain the pool on Monday night.

"It's not about the $50, it's about the fact that there is a lack of recourse for the average citizen and there is zero accountability on behalf of the city," said Gleeton.