Water billing battle goes on

A Lacombe woman’s fight over a huge water bill continues after a plumber’s inspection found nothing wrong with her half-duplex’s water system.

A Lacombe woman’s fight over a huge water bill continues after a plumber’s inspection found nothing wrong with her half-duplex’s water system.

In March, Brookes Wallace was hit with a water bill of $1,028 for the month of February, suggesting 364 cubic metres of water was used in the property she owns that houses two tenants.

With no apparent leaks or evidence of accumulated water, Wallace was flabbergasted at the charge, which represented a 12-fold increase on her average monthly charge.

Even after an independent evaluation of her water meter found it to be almost perfectly accurate, Wallace could not believe the recorded water usage was correct, and now a plumber’s inspection has reinforced her stance.

“There is absolutely, positively, 100 per cent nothing wrong with my house,” Wallace told the Advocate following Tuesday’s inspection.

“There are no leaks, no nothing.”

The plumber is now looking back at Wallace’s past water bills to see if there is any trend, and will put together a report on the issue. Wallace, who has been told by City of Lacombe that the matter is resolved and been encouraged to set up a payment plan, is now contemplating going before city council, although she is not pleased with the prospect of having to plead her case in the council chambers.

Further reinforcing her belief that the bill represents an error is the fact that a number of Lacombe residents have reached out to her in support since learning of her plight.

One of those people is Shannon McQuaig. Her family of four moved into a new home in the Elizabeth Park subdivision last August. The home’s average water bill runs in the $70 range.

But February’s charge also was a big aberration for McQuaig. Her bill for the month effectively tripled, costing her $216 for the 58 cubic metres — about three times an average family’s monthly usage — that apparently passed through her meter.

She approached the city and was told something must be leaking; she did dye tests that showed nothing of the sort. She paid the bill and saw her meter readings return to normal in March. But after reading about Wallace’s story, she is now wondering if there is a larger trend of overcharging from February.

“I’m just behind (Wallace), because I think it’s ridiculous that (the city) would even assume that she would use that much water. To me, they’re being irresponsible by not looking into it further and just saying that she has to pay it,” said McQuaig.

Lacombe utilities and fleet manager Chris Huston said such instances do happen from time to time, with a running toilet or leaky faucet often to blame.

“Our stance is that if it goes through the meter, that water’s being used somewhere,” he said.

When tested, Wallace’s meter was 99.75 per cent accurate, which suggests that for every one cubic metre of water passing through it, the meter actually counts 0.9975 cubic metres.

Huston said customers do not realize how much extra water usage a leaking toilet or faucet can amount to. He said residents can always get leak testing packs from the city free of charge to use in their homes.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides said allowing Red Deer College to become a university  would create a gap in programming.  (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer College continues 2021-22 budget planning

Red Deer College is continuing its 2021-22 budget planning, a day after… Continue reading

Innisfail RCMP were dispatched to a report of a break and enter in progress on Sunday. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer woman among two arrested by Didsbury RCMP

Two people are facing drug-related charges after RCMP searched a home in… Continue reading

Satnam Singh Sandhu, 42, was sentenced to six years in prison for manslaughter on Friday in Red Deer Court of Queens Bench. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Sylvan Lake man sentenced to six years for choking his wife

Satnam Singh Sandhu pleaded guilty to manslaughter

Some workers are terrified at the prospect of returning to work at Olymel, where hundreds were infected with COVID, says a worker.
Advocate file photo
Second death linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak, Alberta Health confirms

A second death has been linked to the Olymel COVID-19 outbreak, Alberta… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
New vaccine brings optimism amid rising threat of variants, high case counts

Canada’s vaccine rollout received a boost Friday with the approval of a… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

This image released by Briarcliff Entertainment shows Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, with journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a scene from the documentary “The Dissident.” (Briarcliff Entertainment via AP)
US implicates Saudi crown prince in journalist’s killing

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia’s crown prince likely approved the killing of U.S.-based… Continue reading

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby speaks during a media briefing at the Pentagon, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US strike, first under Biden, kills Iran-backed militiaman

BAGHDAD — A U.S. airstrike in Syria targeted facilities belonging to a… Continue reading

Conservative member of Parliament Michael Cooper holds a press conference as he is joined virtually by fellow members of Parliament, Canadian geriatricians, mental health professionals and Indigenous leaders in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021, regarding the Senate amendments to Bill C-7, an Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying). THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Address anti-Indigenous racism in health care before expanding MAID: advocates, MP

OTTAWA — The federal government should not expand access to medical assistance… Continue reading

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

FILE - Cameron Forte (right) and his Fraser Valley Bandits are 2-0 at the Canadian Elite Basketball League Summer Series after being the Saskatchewan Rattlers. (CEBL photo)
CEBL releases 14-game 2021 schedule, hopes to see fans attend games in person

Season will kick off with the Edmonton Stingers and the Fraser Valley Bandits

FILE - Keegan Messing performs during the Men’s Short program at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., Friday, Jan. 17, 2020. If the world figure skating championships do go ahead in a bubble in March in Sweden, there is a good chance Canada won’t be there. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing leads Canadian figure skating team at world championships

Messing was the only Canadian to compete on the Grand Prix circuit this season

Nurses episode, titled “Achilles Heel,” was first aired on Global in February 2020. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Global pulls ‘Nurses’ episode after scene with Orthodox Jews deemed anti-Semitic

TORONTO — Global TV says it has pulled an episode of Toronto-set… Continue reading

Lady Gaga is offering a $500,000 reward for the return of her two French bulldogs. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Lady Gaga’s dog walker shot, French bulldogs stolen in LA

Dog walker expected to survive injuries

Most Read