Today’s Editorial July 24: Time to corral the cowboys

US President Harry Truman once wondered ‘how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who’s hitting you?’

We’re considering this very question in relation to the Water Authority Cayman’s exorbitant bills to a number of customers in the past several months.

Elected lawmakers, it is time for you to take the hammer away and corral these cowboys.

The Caymanian Compass first started reporting on this mess when an unfortunate named Gary Southway informed us he had received a CI$2,325 water bill in one month for his three-bedroom apartment and family of four.

The Water Authority stated it was ‘reasonable’ that Mr. Southway’s family could have used more than 95,000 gallons in 30 days…increasing his average monthly usage by 2,000 times!

To borrow a quote from Mr. Southway, that is ‘bloody crazy.’

Next was Crown Attorney John Masters who actually took the authority to court over water bills of $665 and $703. Following the installation of a new water meter in his family’s home bills dropped to between $350 and $73 dollars a month.

These statements have recently been followed by claims from the National Council of Voluntary Organisations that it is being overcharged on water bills, and has been advised by attorneys that it has no choice but to pay.

The Water Authority responded to Mr. Masters’ claims by stating that, out of 300,000 water bills issued in the past two years, there had been complaints about 1,314. Only 212 of those customers asked for meters to be sent off island for testing.

The authority said only 36 meters were found to be non-compliant with industry standards, and that most of those meters were actually found to be undercharging.

The difficulty we have with these claims by the Water Authority is that no one from outside the agency who has experience in this area is looking at them with a critical eye. The company reviewing the water meters in Florida is hired by the authority, and the data they provide is pretty much incomprehensible to the average person anyway.

As Cayman Islands law stands now, the Water Authority is the regulator with regard to these matters, so it is in effect, regulating itself.

We hope a solution is found soon. The Caymanian Compass is not keen to write any more stories about people getting ripped off and bullied by the agency that provides them with the most essential requirement for life after the air we breathe.

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