Ali Webster has a $4000 rates after council failed to tell her a pipe was leaking.
Ali Webster has a $4000 rates after council failed to tell her a pipe was leaking. Luka Kauzlaric

No relief for family after leak left $4000 bill from council

A GLADSTONE mum has given Gladstone Regional Council a spray after a leaking pipe left her with a $4000 water rates bill.

The invisible leak saw the family of three's annual water consumption jump to a whopping 2500 kilolitres in 2012/13, up from 323 kilolitres the previous year.

And while other local councils give a discount for undetected leaks, GRC policy demands ratepayers hand over the full amount.

Ali Webster said the first she knew of the leak was when GRC notified her by letter that her water usage had spiked, more than a month ago.

"It took GRC over 12 days to issue this letter after the meter has been read!" Ms Webster said.

"If they'd just called me, it would have saved over 13,000 litres every day for that period."

Ms Webster said she queried the amount as soon as she was alerted to the seven-fold increase, but GRC took another two weeks to respond.

She also immediately booked a plumber, and paid $900 for the fix.

On August 8, Ms Webster emailed GRC chief Stuart Randle about the situation.

After more than two weeks, the Water Department confirmed it would investigate the situation; but in the meantime, Ms Webster is still expected to pay the huge bill.

"It's just not something you can budget for - it's incredible that Gladstone doesn't have a policy, when so many other councils are prepared to give concessions," Ms Webster said.

The family is even selling their boat to help cover the cost.

Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Brisbane councils all have concessions in case of big water leaks.

But mayor Gail Sellers said GRC had always left the responsibility with the customer.

"Council provides information both with semi-annual water consumption (advice), and on its website as to how customers can practically check for water leaks," Cr Sellers said.

"We've paid GAWB for it, so what can we do?"

The mayor said the investigation would look at prior usage.



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