Nova Scotia

Woman horrified at Halifax Water bill

A woman in Halifax is questioning why she received a bill from the Halifax Regional Water Commission for $2,000, when she normally pays about $100 per bill.
Edie Goulet says there's no way she consumed as much as Halifax Water claims. (CBC)
Goulet's water bill jumped to almost $2,000 for the last cycle. (CBC)

A woman in Halifax questions why she received a bill from the Halifax Regional Water Commission for $2,000, when she normally pays about $100 per bill.

Edie Goulet lives alone in a small bungalow in Halifax, and while she works during the day, her average water use is normal – showers, washing clothes, running the dishwasher.

Goulet lives alone in her bungalow. She doesn't have a swimming pool or spa.

Halifax Water called her to say her consumption was high, at 1,217 cubic metres of water for 90 days during the summer months.

That's the amount of water Goulet says she consumes over five years. Her prior bill read that she'd consumed 28 cubic metres of water.

Normally, Goulet says her water bills run about $70 to $117 in a 90-day cycle.

"They're saying that if you can imagine a swimming pool — the largest that you can imagine — and you fill that up three times and dump it in your house, that would be 1,217 cubic metres," she said.

She said the commission sent a technician to view the property.

"He searched the property and there was nothing he could find," she said. "Where's the water at?"

A lot of water

"That's too much water for one person to consume. Maybe the whole neighbourhood would consume that, if you're lucky, but not this little street."

Goulet said her worries grew when a second technician visited her home and told her that her water meter was fine. She said she got nowhere in subsequent calls to Halifax Water.

As she made her way up the management food chain at Halifax Water, she says she was told by a few people that the meters don't make mistakes.

Because they only check the meters every three months, Goulet says she wonders why the commission would be able to say that with such confidence.

"I can't afford to pay $2,000 just for no reason," she said.

Plumbers have told her if that much water was running through her home, she'd hear it.

Halifax Water spokesman James Campbell said Wednesday that the reading was accurate.

"When customers have a large spike in their bill, we certainly wanna find out what's going on, because we don't want our water to be wasted and we don't want customers paying for water they don't think they're using," Campbell said. "But once it's passed through that meter, then the water has been consumed."

"I mean there are often cases where there's been some construction work that may have been done on the property and there could be leaks that have developed because of that," he added.

Goulet says contractors were working on her house — a year ago.

CBC News talked to plumbers Wednesday who said it's not uncommon to go to court over disputes about water meter readers.

They said there have been cases in the past were thieves have stolen their neighbour's water for illegal purposes.

Goulet said Halifax Water told her to contact them to avoid interest payments and said she owes $500 for her next 90-day bill.

Halifax Water said Wednesday that Goulet will have to figure out on her own where all the water went.

"I guess I have to fight," she told CBC News.