A Winnipeg man says he “almost fainted” when he received a $23,000 water bill about 18 months ago, and he’s still refusing to pay.
Matthew Cowap says he was contacted by a city official about an unusually high quarterly bill in October 2016. The bill is typically about $150, he says.
“I was like, ‘Are you sure you're not missing a decimal place there or something?” he says. “And they're like, ‘No, it's $23,000.’”
Cowap says the city told him he is responsible for the bill due to a leak on his property.
He refused to pay, and the city cut off his supply last August. That means showering at his parents’ home and flushing his toilet using refillable containers.
But Cowap isn’t backing down. He says he didn’t see a leak, and his bills went back to normal in the months after the shocking spike.
“I feel like if there was $23,000 worth of water running somewhere on my property I would've noticed somewhere by now,” he adds.
“I just feel like I’m in a big hole that I can’t get out of,” Cowap says.
The City of Winnipeg won’t comment on Cowap’s case, but says that staff work with customers who get unusually high bills to investigate and try to find a resolution.
A spokesperson for the city said that the best way to avoid unexpectedly high bills is to read water meters on a regular basis.
Water expert Jeremy Gerbrandt said he’s heard of people having significantly higher-than-normal water bills due to leaks, but he’s never heard of one that high.
With a report from CTV Winnipeg’s Josh Crabb