Residents lose water row

William and Jean Carless believe the Water Corporation billed them unfairly. Picture: David Baylis d427081
William and Jean Carless believe the Water Corporation billed them unfairly. Picture: David Baylis d427081

Mr Carless (80), who has been living on his Elizabeth Street home for about 43 years, received a water bill in February that was more than six times its usual price.

The couple’s water bill is usually about $60 averaging 250 to 350 litres of water per day.

In February this year, they received their two-monthly water bill for $392.66, which stated the couple had used about 227,000 litres of water.

Mr Carless said the bill was incorrect and there was no way they had used a year’s worth of water in two months.

‘It wasn’t a vast amount of money, but it’s like someone stopping you in the street and saying ‘you owe me $300’ and you say ‘well what for’?’ he said.

Acting on the advice of the Water Corporation, Mr Carless had his grandson come over, who is a registered plumber, to check the whitegoods, taps and underground piping for leaks.

Mr Carless said no leaks or problems were found, but he was still compelled to pay the bill.

‘Quite honestly, it was beginning to tell on our nerves,’ he said.

‘I was only paying that bill to stop the stress in the family.’

In a Parliamentary Grievance, the Member for Cannington, Bill Johnston, said Water Minister Mia Davies should intervene and refund the money.

‘The couple believed the additional charges were due to a defect in their water meter,’ Mr Johnston said. ‘After reporting this to the Water Corporation the meter was replaced and their bill returned to regular levels in the next billing period.

‘This is an excessive amount for an elderly couple to pay for water they did not use.’

A Water Corporation representative said staff had visited the property twice and investigated. ‘The property meter was tested at a laboratory, which confirmed it was recording within the permitted tolerance,’ the representative said.

The couple also referred their complaint to the independent Energy and Water Ombudsman (EWO) who concluded that the meter was functioning correctly at the time and therefore the consumption and invoices were correct.