NIPAWIN — Vince Hilbert said he went into cardiac arrest when he opened his water bill to see that he owed about $508 for his two-person trailer without a washing machine.
“Last summer I watered the lawn at full price just about every second day and it never went over $81 and some cents,” Hilbert said.
In response, he phoned the town, who informed Hilbert it was likely there was a leak.
In a typical situation the town would simply send the resident the bill, but since Hilbert phoned they had decided to investigate it.
After an inspection of the property, Jamie Fast, Nipawin’s director of public works, utilities and engineering, said they found the culprit to be a problem with a single 3/8 inch litre valve.
Their estimations put the water loss at 4,082.4 gallons per day.
Since the town is only responsible to cover leaks up to the curb, the responsibility to pay for the bill fell on Hilbert – as it would for any property owner, Fast said.
“We’re only liable up to the curb stop and then anything beyond that [is the property owner’s responsibility] – except the metres,” he said. “But we were told by the company we get our metres from that they’re pretty impossible to over-read.”
Fast said the norm is about two cases like this a month for the town.
Typically, these come from water bleeders, water softeners, outside taps or leaky toilets.
“Some homes aren’t insulated very well or they’re operating older toilets and stuff, and when it gets -30°C below things tend to freeze up,” he said.
“It all depends on the weather, and then in the summer people don’t realize how much water they’re [using] to actually water their gardens.”
What Hilbert had was classified as a bleeder.
According to Fast, while going higher on a metre is “pretty impossible,” being charged under the amount being used is another story.
“The older the metre, the less water it will record. So it actually benefits you to have an older metre.”
If a resident gets an unusually high water bill, Fast said the first step should be to find out if anything is leaking, such as a toilet, bleeder valve, leaky tap or water softener.
“It’s amazing how much can go through with even a drip if it drips every day for the year, you’ll be amazed how much water you’ll actually lose.”
To check for a leak, Fast said that when all the water is off, the metre shouldn’t be reading anything.
“If it is reading, I would investigate.”