'You have to be patient': Newmarket resident wins fight against $2,520 water bill
'If you still feel you have not used that much (water), you have to fight these charges,' resident says following her 'stressful' and 'frustrating' battle with the town
May 11, 2022
Newmarket resident Nora Khazal faced a challenging process in the fight against an unexpected and shocking $2,520 water bill.
Khazal said she did everything she could to get to the bottom of how the February charge happened, when no one at the town, a home inspector, or a plumber could find anything wrong with her water system.
After the town examined her meter, she said it was determined it was working fine. She said they tried to negotiate a partial reduction on her bill, but she said she stood her ground and threatened to take legal action. Ultimately, she said the town relented and wiped away most of the bill.
“I felt really relieved. I felt like I truly won the lottery,” she said. “The whole stress, the whole cloud just lifted off of my shoulders. It’s an exciting feeling, a good feeling.”
NewmarketToday reported Khazal’s fight against the bill, which she said had “no logical explanation.” She was able to make headway and get a response from the town as the story developed, helping lead to the outcome.
Khazal is now facing an approximately $787 bill for her past three months of water use, February through April. She said her water bills typically are between $400 to $500 per month, which she feels is still a bit high.
Although she said it was difficult, she praised the town’s understanding in the end.
“The whole process did take a lot of time. Over two months, it was stressful, it was tiring,” Khazal said. “I know they needed time to get the results back and everything. At the end of it, it was worth it."
The town said it investigates bills on a case-by-case basis, but decided to provide some relief here.
"The town considered the resident’s unique circumstance and her due diligence in hiring a professional plumber and contractor to inspect the property," according to a town statement. "Residents are reminded that property owners are responsible for the infrastructure of their home, including the water that is used and has been registered on the water meter. If their water bill is a result of an unexpected spike in consumption, this is typically due to a leak somewhere in the home."
Khazal said the town has also indicated it would prioritize her and her neighbours for its ongoing water meter replacement program aimed at improving readings.
Other Newmarket residents have occasionally reported inexplicably high water bills, including in comments on the NewmarketToday story. The town has said high bills often indicate a leak and it encourages owners to check for them, with steps and answers available at newmarket.ca/highwaterbill.
The town added that billing inquiries should first be directed toward Newmarket Hydro by calling 905-895-2309 or by emailing email@example.com. If you wish for the town to launch an investigation, the town said you are encouraged to complete an application form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Khazal said she made sure to exhaust all those steps to check for leaks before escalating the issues to get her bill reduced. But she said if that examination does not explain the reason for the high bill, you should follow up.“If you still feel you have not used that much (water), you have to fight these charges,” she said. “What if it does happen again in the future? It does take a lot of time. It’s stressful. It's frustrating, but you have to be patient.”