Questions about water bill

| 20/03/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusCan you please look into this as I have tried and am getting no explanation other than it’s just what they do. I was shocked to have to pay a large Water Authority bill for 41 days in January/February. My previous bill was for 19 days. They charge different amounts per cubic metre with an increased price after 12 cubic metres. On the 19-day bill I had not used up my allowance at the cheaper rate as the month was about 11 days short. I was then charged those 11 days usage at the higher rate on the next bill. This made my bill higher than normal. When I asked for an explanation I was told that the short bill was because the meter readers wanted to be done before Christmas so they could have their holidays. I don’t object to the staff having their holidays but it doesn’t seem right that I have to bear that cost on my water bill.

I wonder how many others have been overcharged like this and how can the authority just shrug it off as “policy”?

Auntie’s answer: It looks like this issue basically boils down to one of timing, as it was explained to me by the Water Authority. Specifically, a company official pointed to this question frequently arising from customers after receiving their water bills for January, saying, it “is usually due to a combination of the length of the meter reading period and the extent of the customer’s holiday celebrations”.

Acknowledging that the meter-reading period in December is shorter than a typical monthly timeframe and that this is usually longer in January, the official added that water consumption over the Christmas holiday generally increases as it does in the summer months when children are home from school and visitors are more common.

“Therefore, a higher number of days in the meter-reading period does not automatically mean that a customer would exceed the 12 cubic metre threshold, nor does a lower number of days in the meter reading period mean that a customer will always use less than the threshold,” the Water Authority representative said, pointing out that the customer’s water usage would be the deciding factor. However, at the same time, a customer could exceed that threshold during an average month and only fall short during the reduced December meter-reading period.

As for that shortened timeframe, the official said that since the water meters are read manually, circumstances such as inclement weather and public holidays could affect the number of days the total of 18,500 meters in Grand Cayman can be accessed in a month. There was no mention of staff wanting to finish ahead of Christmas though the official did point out that customers should “note that the authority’s rates are not dictated at the employee level. The base water rates are set by the Water Authority Regulations which were last amended in 2012.”

Since the issue of the seasonal bills has come up before, the Water Authority has also discussed this in a company newsletter, which you can read here.

A solution is in the works, though, that will remove variables like holidays and bad weather from the ability to read meters. The Water Authority is working on implementing AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) technology which will enable meters to be read automatically, thus allowing real-time readings rather than monthly, which “we hope, will improve customer service by allowing us and our customers to more closely monitor water consumption and intervene earlier when there are suspected leaks”.

In case anyone was wondering, this new system will not affect the job security of meter readers as they will then focus on their other duties as part of the customer service department.

In addition, the authority official said that customers with online accounts can access a graph of their consumption history which tracks water use over the year.

Anyone with questions about their bill can also call (949-2837) or email the Water Authority.


Category: Ask Auntie, Misc Questions

Comments (7)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Very helpful, thank you.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Also, if this is their routine practice why don’t they estimate the December bill, or prorate the monthly allowance between the short and long billing periods. I wish they had been asked why they do not do that.

  3. Anon says:

    I would prefer to pay for the amount I use. No?

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is not right WA.
    I was off island, for over 3 weeks. No house guest, and my bill went up an extra 119 CI for that period! They need to do there job right and correct the overcharges

  5. Anonymous says:

    WA are being dishonest here. The 20/40 day split cost me a few dollars by pushing me over the 12 cubic meters. Now multiply that by all the households they serve and that pays for the Xmas party, or the bosses bonuses.
    Much fairer to have an threshold per billed day, or don’t they do decimals?