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Water woes plague Docklands

01 Apr 2010

Some Docklands residents have been charged nearly six times the normal price for water due to a billing error.

Residents of Victoria Point were recently charged the wrong amount for the October, November and December 2009 quarter.

Building manager Stewart Silver King and Burns says the error occurred when an operator incorrectly added a service charge to the water volume charge.

In one case, this resulted in water being charged at $6.63 per kilolitre, rather than the City West Water rate of $1.26.

Stewart Silver King and Burns says the amounts overcharged will be credited on the next quarterly bill.

The error was discovered after residents complained about the price of the water.

Stewart Silver King and Burns is yet to respond to evidence that it’s previously quarterly billing was also inaccurate.

Victoria Point buys water in bulk from City West Water and uses computerised meters to determine each apartment’s share.

Stewart Silver King and Burns says this software is regularly audited by an independent third party and there is no reason to doubt its accuracy.

In other areas of Docklands, the issue of how to equitably divide and allocate the water bills is causing headaches.

NewQuay apartments were built with non-City-West-Water-compliant meters and this is currently causing headaches for owners corporations as the firm which originally installed them is defunct.

Most towers are being forced to charge for water via lot liability, which effectively means that only owners and not renters pay for water.  It is illegal to bill for unmetered water.

Their other choice is to retro-fit expensive complying meters. This is further complicated by occupational health and safety issues, as some meters are located in areas that water authority meter-readers refuse to service.

The Arkley tower is currently persevering with its originally-installed meters but sources say this may change to the lot-liability method to avoid unnecessary cost and inconvenience.

Further complicating matters is owners corporations and building managers’ inability to charge any more for “hot water” even though this appears as a separate line item on bills.  

The gas used to centrally heat this water is sometimes compared with water usage and assigned to owners on this proportion.  In other instances, the gas used to heat the water is simply divided and billed by lot liability.

Owners corporations also generally absorb the “service charge” of the City West Water bill.

Lend Lease’s Dock5 development in Victoria Harbour has avoided these headaches and each apartment has its own City West Water account and meter.

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