Sylvan Lake Town Council approved a new policy which will provide residents with an adjustment for utility charges brought on by leaks.
The Town’s Environmental Services department created the policy after numerous frustrated calls were received due to “high usage charges incurred due to unforeseen failures of equipment within their property.”
Kevin Gannon, manager for environmental services, said the number of calls have been increasing over the last few years.
“Last year I think we had six instances that I would say fell within this policy,” Gannon said.
An unforeseen leak which could cause utility charges to be abnormally high cannot be from negligence, Gannon says.
An abnormally high utility bill resulting from a leak has caused some hardships to residents.
“In the past what we have done is try to compensate the individuals who are facing some of these hardships…” said Gannon. “If we didn’t see any negligence we would not charge them the sewer rate portion of that aspect.”
Gannon added if any water went through the meters the customer would still be charge the water rate.
The new policy helps to provide accountability and will treat everyone equally.
The Leak Adjustment Policy gives a procedure for both residents and Town staff to follow in the instance a utility bill is unusually high due to a leak.
An approved adjustment will have reduced utility service charges, which will be decided at the discretion of the Chief Administrative Officer.
“With respect to the sewage charges if approved for an adjustment the customer shall not be responsible for additional sewage charges as a result of a water leakage for which and adjustment has been made and approved by the CAO. The Town would be responsible for absorbing the $1.83 per cubic meter that will be charged by the Sylvan Lake Regional Wastewater Commission,” a report to council reads.
There are specific requirements an applicant must meet to be approved for a leak adjustment. Some of those requirements include: the leak is found on the private water line, it must not have been caused directly or indirectly by an act of negligence, the customer must not have insurance coverage that “provides compensation for the increased Utility Services charges resulting from the leak.”
There are nine factors for eligibility listed in the policy.
“We did put in some pretty extreme criteria in order to ensure the individuals were just not removing themselves property requirements.”