Newmarket resident Nora Khazal said she got an unpleasant surprise when she opened her water bill in February.
While she said her bills usually are between $400 to $500, she was alarmed to discover an approximately $2,520 water bill for the month, attributed to her water usage being 10 times as much.
But she said her water use had not changed at all, and inspectors had not been able to find any leaks or other issues. Now, she said she fears being forced to pay the bill and has struggled to negotiate with the town over it.
“It’s very frustrating and stressful,” she said, adding that it led her to check on the meter regularly during the night. “I couldn’t even sleep over it.”
Some Newmarket residents have reported struggles to get out of what they consider inexplicably high water bills. The town is in the midst of a water replacement program that it has said could help identify issues sooner, but Khazal said her water meter is new and should not have had issues.
Khazal said she had difficulty getting answers about her bill from both Newmarket-Tay Power and the town. She said her next month’s bill in March was $600, which she still considers unfairly high compared to her neighbours but is more in line with the usual amount.
She said the town and NT Power have indicated she must pay the bill, unable to identify any other reason for the spike other than usage. She said town inspectors could not find any issues with the meter after a few minutes.
But she said she only uses water for typical kitchen and washroom activities, without any yard or usage outside the home.
“Nobody is really trying to understand logically,” she said, adding she feels there may have been a reading misinterpreted because her water meter was installed in the wrong direction. “It's just common sense — nobody uses that.”
The town said high water bills generally indicate a leak in the home, and they encourage owners to check for leaks regularly, with steps available at newmarket.ca/highwaterbill. It said that it could also test a meter and adjust the bill if it is faulty.
The town said it was unable to find any discrepancies after investigating Khazal’s property. But it added that you can apply for a high water bill investigation.
“Town staff will review each high consumption complaint individually and will confirm the water meter readings with what is shown in the bill. Any discrepancies discovered will be adjusted accordingly,” the municipality said.
The town has an ongoing mandatory water meter replacement campaign to improve readings and ensure they can be done remotely. The town said the program had not reached Khazal’s home.
Khazal said the town answered her messages after NewmarketToday’s inquiry and agreed to examine the meter next week to ensure it is functional. But she said it seems unlikely they will find any issue with the meter, given it is about a year old.
She said she still feels upset.
“I don’t feel good,” she said. “There’s really no logical explanation to where these charges come from. I’m still pissed off and still stressed.”