Today’s Editorial April 02: Something’s fishy here

There’s an old idiom suggesting where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and right now there are whole clouds of dark smoke hanging over the Water Authority.

Over the past few months, we have heard from several Water Authority customers all complaining about abnormally high water bills. They aren’t complaining that the normal rate of water is too high, only that there have been extraordinarily high increases on some monthly bills for no apparent reason.

In several of the cases, Water Authority workers had been in the immediate area working on the water lines during the month of the spike in charges.

Bills before and after the extraordinarily high amount are normal, so it appears as if for some unexplained reason the tenants of the property mysteriously used 100 times more water than they usually do.

The Water Authority doesn’t really seem interested in the complaints, and just matter-of-factly cites the Water Authority Law in response. When one customer contended it was impossible to use the 95,815 gallons of water charged on his bill, the Water Authority basically explained that it was within the realm of possibility – as long as there was 2.3 gallons of water flowing in the household every minute of every hour of every day in the billing period.

We seriously doubt there are numerous people who, for no apparent reason, just leave their water running for days or weeks at a time. Yes, mistakes are sometimes made and valves are left open accidentally. But when people who were living in their homes for a whole month say the water wasn’t left on, it seems the Water Authority just dismisses their complaint without investigating it properly.

And now, when one of its customers – a crown counsel no less – decided to fight the veracity of his water bill in court, the Water Authority shut off his water for non-payment less than an hour after the court proceedings were adjourned, despite being asked by the chief magistrate to give the customer reasonable time to pay the bill before terminating his water service.

It’s not that we think the Water Authority is necessarily up to something sinister, but the organisation seems to be acting as if it is above reproach. We simply cannot believe all of the complaining customers are making up stories to try to bilk the Water Authority out of its properly billed and provided services.

Given the amount and nature of the complaints, perhaps it’s time for the Minister of Works and Infrastructure to step in and find out just what’s going on over at the Water Authority and for the Government to look at reforming the Water Authority Law.