Warning after $26,000 water bill at Adamstown

HUNTER Water has reminded its customers to frequently check their household meters after an undetected leak at a house in Adamstown led to a $26,000 bill for the owners.

The Newcastle couple were told in April they owed the staggering amount from an underground leak at their investment property in Adamstown that hemorrhaged 11,773 cubic metres of water, almost enough to fill five Olympic pools.

Hunter Water said it had confirmed the house’s meter was accurate, then contacted the owners’ plumber to file an “undetectable leak rebate” or 50 per cent discount.

File photo

File photo

Following Newcastle Herald inquiries, the utility knocked a further 25 per cent off the exceptionally large bill.

“With the in-kind discount, the remaining payable water usage amount is 25 per cent of the original bill. We’re committed to working with the property owner to ensure the payment plan is manageable and will not put the owner in a position of hardship,” a Hunter Water spokesman said.

“This is an unfortunate situation, and highlights the importance of maintaining access to your water meter and being vigilant of your private water usage.”

Hunter Water said its employees had twice tried to take readings at the Adamstown house but couldn’t access its meter because the property was overgrown. 

It said it had warned the owners and requested a photo reading of the meter dial in order to calculate an accurate bill.

Had Hunter Water employees been able to access or see a photo of the meter earlier, the utility said, the leak could have been found and contained.

“Hunter Water’s approach is to balance the value of water in the short and long-term with the cost to the wider customer base of subsidising the marginal costs of water used in these instances,” the spokesman said.

“The original [$14,000] offer with the customer to halve the balance outstanding represented the marginal cost of the water used and what was subsidised by Hunter Water’s wider customer base.”