If you’re angling for a concession on an unexpectedly-large water bill as the result of an unseen leak, council passed a policy at its November meeting which details the necessary steps to meet the criteria.
Tenterfield Shire Council will adopt the practice already working at other councils for dealing with ratepayers’ requests for some relief on their bills under these unforeseen circumstances. Note, though, that it relates only where a large water consumption charge is generated as a result of a concealed water leak, not leaks caused by appliances which should be able to be readily detected and rectified.
The criteria are:
- the property was occupied at the time the leak occurred;
- the property is not currently under water restriction, or legal proceedings for the non-payment of previous water accounts;
- the concealed leak was in a location not readily visible or apparent (below ground/under a concrete slab/in a wall cavity, etc);
- increase in water consumption must be substantial (at least double ‘normal’ consumption, determined by the average of the previous two bills);
- the leak was repaired by a fully-licensed plumber within 14 days of the owner or occupier becoming aware of the water usage increase.
Then there’s some paperwork involved, with an application for a concession to be lodged with council within 21 days of the leak being repaired, and the plumber certifying details of the leak, the water meter reading following its repair, and that a pressure test has been conducted on the entire water service at the property.
Should a concession be granted, no other water account adjustment will be considered for a period of five or 10 years, for residential and non-residential properties respectively.
Councillors queried the need for a licensed plumber in the case of an emergency – saying farmers in particular can be pretty innovative when it comes to fixing things – but the new policy was adopted.
Residents were also encouraged to keep an eye on their water meters for early warning that consumption was higher than expected.