Calgary family fighting $2,500 water bill; utility refuses to budge
Published Wednesday, August 16, 2017 9:29PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 17, 2017 12:30AM EDT
A typical water bill in Calgary costs $111 a month. Thanks to their water conservation habits, the Lalonde family usually beats the average. So imagine their surprised when they received a $2,500 water bill in February.
“Literally, when I saw this bill, I went, ‘Okay. What just happened?’” Carly Lalonde told CTV Calgary. “I mean, there’s no flooding.”
The amount the family were charged was for 744 cubic metres of water -- enough to build 13 NHL hockey rinks. Usually, they only use about 15 cubic metres of water per month in their single family home, spending about $100.
The Lalondes claim that nothing out of the ordinary happened to warrant receiving such an astronomical bill. They contacted ENMAX, a City of Calgary-owned utility, and their water meter was removed and tested. ENMAX said it was working fine. Claiming that its billing system is accurate, ENMAX told the family that they must have an undetected leak. So the Lalondes hired a plumber and irrigation specialist to go over their property, but they found nothing beyond a small toilet leak.
“There is no evidence that there is damage,” Lalonde said. “He said if that kind of water came out in the middle of winter, he said your entire system would have been broken; your pipes would have burst underground.”
The next month, Lalonde says their usage dropped back down to normal levels, even though nothing had changed. This, however, did nothing to change ENMAX’s position.
“We know that the water was flowing through,” ENMAX spokesperson Gina Sutherland told CTV Calgary. “Where it went and how it was used, we don’t know and we can’t speculate.”
The company told CTV Calgary that it is sure that the problem is not theirs, so the Lalondes must pay -- with or without a logical explanation.
“We empathize with the customer,” Sutherland added. “We will continue to work with her to manage those payments.”
For Lalonde, that’s simply not acceptable.
“I can’t tell you how many nights my husband and I are sitting there and going, ‘Why do we have to deal with this?’” she said. “You know, how are we going to pay for this?”
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Lea Williams-Doherty