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2394 posts

Uber Geek

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  # 1012980 26-Mar-2014 10:19
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My wife and I had a huge bill come through from water care for last month too. Every month for the last 18 months we've had a bill between $57 and $58 (never more, never less), hard to believe given at times we've had up to 9 people staying at our house for a period of two weeks and often have extra people or family over. Suddenly last month when it's just been the two of us for a we had apparently used an additional 60,000L. Leak test proved no leaks, and I think I'd notice a swimming pool sized leak.

I suspect the water readers are not coming by every two months like they say, and are just making the numbers up, then when they actually do get a real reading you either get a really small bill or a really huge one. Guess what my latest bill was, yup, back to $58.




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Wannabe Geek


  # 1013017 26-Mar-2014 10:53
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insane: I suspect the water readers are not coming by every two months like they say, and are just making the numbers up, then when they actually do get a real reading you either get a really small bill or a really huge one.



Easy to check if a meter reader did really come to read your meter:

1. if the reading did not take place (meter box flooded by heavy rain, gate locked, dog on property, etc.) and the meter reader informed Watercare, your invoice will be marked as 'estimate'

2. if your invoice says it is an ACTUAL bill (i.e. not an estimated one), check the dials on your water meter and compare with the figure on the back of your invoice. Your reading should only be slightly higher, due to water consumption since the meter reader came a few days earlier.

A lot of people check their bank statements for bank errors, but never check their water meter or electricity meter or broadband usage charts for same. Yet they assume that they are being overcharged.

Errors do happen, I admit, for example when meter readers read the wrong meter, or invert digits when entering them on their digital pads, but 99% of the time actual reads are correct. For example, Watercare's meter readers are equipped with digital recorders that automatically ask confirmation when the reading entered is too high.

If you notice a big discrepancy on an actual bill between your own meter reading and what your invoice says, simply call the Watercare call centre, give them your reading, and ask for the current bill to be flagged as an ANOMALY (to avoid this bill being used for future estimation).

 
 
 
 


3885 posts

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  # 1013438 26-Mar-2014 21:39

The only way to prove 100% is to buy your own water meter and get a plumber to install it inline with the council one. I know of a large commercial building in the Auckland CBD that was getting high water bills. The building owners were sure the meter was faulty but council insisted it wasn't. They got their own meter installed. It would have cost heaps to install since the incoming watermain was 65mm diameter. (very big meter required). It turned out that 2 of the dials were jammed together in the council meter meaning that it was reading 10X higher than what it should. Council had to refund over 50K worth of incorrectly billed water. And this was over 10 years ago therefore would have been lots more $$$ if it happened today.

Assuming the meter has a stuck dials fault. It would be unlikely to be picked up by a simple bucket type test unless you are lucky enough for the stuck dials to be on the verge of "ticking over" just before you start the test.


Also im assuming the OP doesn't own an old cross lease property with a shared meter. Yes there are still lots of them out there. Watercare just read the common meter and divide the bill by the number of units. So if your neighbours use lots of water you will be subsidising them.

4 posts

Wannabe Geek


  # 1013684 27-Mar-2014 09:59
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It turned out that 2 of the dials were jammed together in the council meter meaning that it was reading 10X higher than what it should.


Thanks for providing this example of a FAULTY METER, that's a good one.


Also im assuming the OP doesn't own an old cross lease property with a shared meter. Yes there are still lots of them out there. Watercare just read the common meter and divide the bill by the number of units. So if your neighbours use lots of water you will be subsidising them.


I did not list that possibility on my previous post but you are right.

Good post. Will amend my training material.


------

Possible reasons for high bills:

 

1. MISREAD

 

2. UNUSUAL CONSUMPTION

 

3. ESTIMATED BILLS

 

4. SWITCHED METERS

 

5. STOLEN WATER

 

6. METER REMOVED OR DISCONNECTED BUT ACCOUNT NOT UPDATED

 

7. FAULTY METER

 

8. SHARED METERS

809 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  # 1014126 27-Mar-2014 19:57
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Aredwood: The only way to prove 100% is to buy your own water meter and get a plumber to install it inline with the council one. .

 You're not allowed to.
You have to have them install it, and if you have 2 meters there is a charge of $150 yearly for inspection.

You can see if it reads right, run your tap, into a bucket or something, watch the meter, check bucket. Shows how much it counted.

My summer water usage went to 39kl last year in Jan.
This year not quite as much.

Winter reading is around 19k.

2 of us.
Yes we have extensive gardens, run taps when brushing teeth and the washing machine eats 100l per wash.

Watrecare sent me a letter when it went to 39kl, saying I must have a leak.

Nope. Just the garden.

You can see here:  Be honest, it's pretty accurate if you are.



http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/Services/OnlineServices/Pages/WaterCalculator.aspx





3885 posts

Uber Geek

Subscriber

  # 1014154 27-Mar-2014 20:28

So how does having the same water go through 2 meters instead of one. Break any laws or violate any contracts? Since you are not touching the council meter or any pipework on the councils side of their meter.


There are lots of body corp properties That have 1 council billing meter and lots of sub meters that are owned and read by the body corporate. The body corp pays the council water bill. And then bills each unit holder based on the reading of their sub meter. If you are actually not allowed to then all these properties will be breaking the rules since the water goes through 2 meters in all of them.

4 posts

Wannabe Geek


  # 1014341 28-Mar-2014 08:47
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pctech: You're not allowed to. You have to have them install it, and if you have 2 meters there is a charge of $150 yearly for inspection.

 

I think pctech is talking about an IRRIGATION meter: it is a water meter dedicated to outdoors use only (e.g. watering the garden) that must be installed by Watercare and inspected yearly. Irrigation meters are equipped with a backflow prevention device that must be inspected yearly at a cost of $150. (FYI, the device is installed to avoid contaminated water backing up into the Watercare supply network: irrigation meters are often used to feed tanks full of pesticide, insecticide, fungicide, etc. - at an orchard farm let's say - and Watercare does not want any of that flowing back into their network when there is a sudden loss of pressure, due to a burst main for example).

 


 

Irrigation meters can benefit households with big gardens because they don’t attract a wastewater charge (as all the water measured by an irrigation meter is deemed to soak into the ground, not flushed into the sewer network). However there are installation costs to pay, and your household meter get charged 100% wastewater instead of 78.5% after that.

 


 

Aredwood: So how does having the same water go through 2 meters instead of one [b]reak any laws or violate any contracts? Since you are not touching the council meter or any pipework on the councils side of their meter.

 

Correct. What you do with your private network is up to you. As long as you don't touch the Watercare meter and its meter box, you can install any number of meters you want down the line. However, just for testing purposes to answer MrTomato’s concern, asking a plumber to install a check meter on his private network would cost a lot more than requesting for a Watercare technician to do a meter test (i.e. attaching a calibrated meter to his garden tap temporarily, let some water run through, and then compared with the reading of the house meter). The meter alone would cost $150 + labour incl. digging.

 

 

 

Watercare on-site meter test = $150 – see http://www.watercare.co.nz/SiteCollectionDocuments/AllPDFs/Domestic_Charges.pdf

 
 
 
 


3267 posts

Uber Geek

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  # 1014882 28-Mar-2014 21:52
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Quick look on TradeMe shows 1000L second hand water tanks (plastic in metal crate) is $100, new is $170.  If you want to save cash you can buy one, do the test, use the water for the garden, then sell the tank.  Probably net cost is $50, maybe $100.  Or maybe you can convince a company to lend you a (used) tank for say $50 or a case of beer.




You can never have enough Volvos!


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