Warman residents upset over water bill increases

The City of Warman changed from quarterly billing to monthly billing over the summer and residents say that's coincided with a spike in their bills.

Mayor says city is passing on increases charged by SaskWater

Residents have been complaining to the City of Warman about high water bills. (CBC)

Robert and Teneille McConnell try to conserve water where they can, but their water bill keeps climbing.

"It's definitely a big change in the last couple years, and even more so this year since they switched the billing," said Robert McConnell.

The City of Warman changed from quarterly billing (every three months) to monthly billing over the summer.

According to Robert McConnell, he paid $192.65 for water last September, and was charged $242 this year for similar usage. Teneille McConnell posted on Facebook about the jump in the family's water bill.

"Has anyone else noticed that their water bills have over doubled since it changed to monthly bills? When I look at old water bills, we are consuming the same amount of water but it has over doubled," she wrote.

"We checked for leaks and a faulty meter but everything is fine. When we called the city office, they stated it is just because of their $ increase and that they are getting tons of complaints."

Dozens of Warman residents responded to McConnell's concerns with stories of their own.

Mayor 'confused by this'

Mayor Sheryl Spence offered a few possible explanations for higher water bills, but said her own water bill has not increased.

"It's just as it has been in the past years. I'm confused by this," she said.

The city purchases water from SaskWater, which accounts for water bills being higher than in neighbouring Saskatoon, which supplies its own.

"This year, as last year and the year before, we get sharp increases. Those increases are somewhere around 10 to 15 per cent," said Spence.

Those increases are passed on to residents. Spence said residents pay what the city pays — plus a "small administration fee" that goes toward future upgrades.

Online petition

An online petition has begun to protest high water bills in Warman, posted by an anonymous user, and has garnered 165 signatures.

"No leaks, no overuse, not even home, yet the water bill from City of Warman is too damn high," reads the description.

Robert McConnell concedes the services in the City of Warman are "good," but still feels the hike in his water bill is unfair.

"They could have phased it in a little smoother than they did," he said.

The city said administration is evaluating bills on an individual basis, in case leaks or miscalculations are contributing to the issue.