NSW man hit with $15k water bill, challenges council

A NSW council has defended claims it overcharged a resident after his water bill came in at more than 50 times his normal amount — a whopping $15,000.

Anthony, a local motor mechanic, lives in the Southern Tablelands and has a modest lifestyle.

He is the only occupant of the house and enjoys tending to his humble garden and small fishpond. He says on average he will use a mere 130 litres of water per day.

His estimation is in line with the amount Sydney Water says an average individual will use daily.

Anthony was therefore utterly shocked when he received the water bill from Goulburn Mulwaree Council instructing him to pay $15,645.86.

“Fifteen-and-a-half thousand dollar water bill, they can go and get themselves nicked,” Anthony told A Current Affair.

The council has alleged Anthony used an average of 35,028 litres of water each day, over 104 days, which is the equivalent of filling two Olympic sized swimming pools or having five taps running non-stop everyday.

“I’m not paying it, no way in the world,” he said.

Previous water bills for the Southern Tablelands resident have been a total of $270 – $290 for the consumption of about 130 litres a day.

The humble mechanic struggles to communicate after a bout of cancer requires assistance from his father, Neil, to resolve the matter. His dad attempted to speak to council on his son’s behalf.

“I couldn’t believe it when he showed me the bill,” Neil told the program this week.

“Currently were at this stage where we can’t get any reasonable common sense from the council,” he said.

Neil proposed a solution to the council that his son’s water metres was “crook” and asked if someone from the council could check it was in fact working correctly.

“I said, it’s gotta be the meter”.

Council informed both father and son they have had “a lot of metres tested”, which have all come back positive. They then informed the duo that if they wanted to have Anthony’s meter tested it would cost them $50 to do so.

“She said it’ll cost you $50 to have it tested but there’ll be nothing wrong with it,” Neil said.

Anthony has been reeled into a lengthy email battle with the Goulburn Mulwaree Council which has insisted he prove he did not use the quoted amount of 35,028 litres of daily water.

They have also sent him an overdue notice instructing him to pay the $15,000 immediately along with an additional 9 per cent of interest accruing on any amount owing.

“They’ve got a policy which basically says, we’re right and you’re wrong, cough up,” Anthony said.

“Something has gone wrong somewhere..that amount of water, where is it,” he added.

Neil describes his son’s daily water habits as modest.

“He lives by himself and he’s got a water tank out the back which he waters the gardens with the only council water that he uses is for showering, toilets and washing up.

“$15,000 or $16,000 is just ridiculous” Neil said.

In a statement, the council said it must abide by its policies and will not address the matter until a meeting in late May.

“I’m not going to pay it,” Anthony said.

“I’m not going to let him pay it … I think it’s an utter disgrace,” Neil added.

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