Water Bill Shock

May 11, 2017

How often do you check your water meter for any possible leakages?

Habitually, many consumers with the laid back attitude leave matters until it reaches a situation which becomes difficult to work out a suitable solution.

Consumers fail to realise that if they do not check for possible leakages on their property from time to time, then they will end up with a hefty bill after 3 months’ time for pipe leaks requiring a lump sum payment. If these leaks go undetected for long periods, thousands of litres of water can be lost, resulting in a much higher than expected water bill, affecting the household budget.

In a dreadful case which the Council recently dealt with saw a consumer earning weekly wages of less than $100 amassing a bill of $800 due to a pipe leakage.

George who worked as a caretaker of a commercial building in the central division was on a fixed wages of $90 per week. This money accounted for his groceries and other related expenses including repayment of utility bills as and when received.

Never in his wildest dreams did George anticipate one of his utility bill to cross the $30 margin. However, he was in for a shock when he received his water bill in December 2016 which stood at a whopping $800. Believing it to be a typing error, he did not delay in seeking clarification from the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) regarding his water bill.

WAF advised him that the bill was accurate and the amount was high due to a possible leakage. He was further advised that no matter what, the bill amount will need to be paid in full to the Authority or he could face water disconnection.

Reeling from the effects of the bill shock, George then decided to check all water pipes and taps in his property and in no time he established that there was indeed a leakage. Concerned with his financial situation he wondered how he will pay $800 upfront to avoid disconnection. With no solution on hand he decided to seek the Councils assistance

The Council wasted no time in liaising with WAF to seek a workable solution for both parties. Based on George’s weekly income it was agreed that he will pay $15 weekly till the amount is repaid in full without facing disconnection.

The Council has time and again come across cases where consumers overlook their responsibilities regarding water leakages and tend to anticipate rebates when high bills are received due to water leakages. Having scheduled maintenance can prevent consumers receiving unexpected bills from WAF.

The Council wishes to remind consumers that rebates are longer given for water leakages and it is purely the responsibility of the consumers to check for leakages on the water pipes which they own. The water pipes leading from the street to the meter, including the meter itself are the responsibility of WAF and all pipes on the property beyond this point owned by the consumer is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Further, no matter what grievances consumers might face, they will be held liable to pay the hefty bill, hence, it is in the best interest of consumers to check for possible leakages on their property from time to time to avoid bill shocks like George did.

Consumers are advised to close all the taps and check whether their meter is still running. If the meter continues to run despite all taps being closed, it signifies a possible leakage somewhere in the system and immediate action must be taken by the homeowner to fix the leak.

As per WAF’s guidelines, if there is a leakage to consumers’ property then the consumer should engage a licensed plumber to fix the leakage. If there is a leakage to pipes from the street to the meter owned by WAF then WAF can be contacted to fix the leakage and the consumers will only pay for water which they used.

The Council hopes that consumers will pay heed to the advice and ensure their property is free of possible water leakages. After all prevention is better than cure!