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27th November 2015
By Deb Zinck and Michel Boyer Global News

Some Fort Saskatchewan home owners are considering legal action as they struggle with mysterious spikes in their municipal water bills.

Trina Scott began leading the charge when she got a water bill that was triple the usual amount, even though she’d been away from home for an entire month. A typical bill, she said, is $180 for two months.

“When I got the last one that was $535, and there was only one person in my house for half that period, I about lost my mind.”

cott said she’d seen smaller spikes in her bills for a couple of years. She was always able to explain them away, attributing them to extra guests, or leaving a tap running. Then she started a Facebook group, and quickly realized she wasn’t alone. It now has 500 members complaining about bills that are higher than they can account for.

Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur is aware of the complaints, and said the higher bills can often be explained.

“Check for leaky toilets, that’s the number one cause. Check to see if there’s any lines that are broke.”

“This year we had several people put in humidifiers that were running,” said Katchur. “And when they were running it was equivalent to flushing their toilet every two minutes.”

But Scott said she’s tried all of the city’s suggestions.

“We’ve checked for leaks, we don’t have any, nothing has changed, we’ve repaired nothing, and the bill automatically goes back down on its own after one or two cycles.”

Recognizing residents’ frustration, the city is now considering hiring an external auditor to find out if there’s a problem with the billing process or an equipment malfunction. Scott said it’s a positive step, but “the next step is going to have to be a lawsuit of some sort.”

Fort Saskatchewan council voted unanimously Tuesday night in favour of examining the water billing process.