water bill woes continue. help needed. really really needed.

Back in October, I posted about a very strange water bill we received from the Region of Peel. Our three-month bill usually runs around $60, representing 4Ms or a maximum of 5Ms of water. This bill was almost $500, representing 38Ms of water.

In other words, Peel is saying that we used almost two years' worth of water in a three-month period.

We have been fighting this for months, without success, and Peel is now threatening to shut off our water.

Here's what we've done so far:

1. Paid a portion of the bill equivalent to the high end of a normal bill

2. Spoken to our landlord, who was shocked. He's never seen anything like this.

3. Spoken endlessly to a manager at Region of Peel.

4. Had Peel Water inspectors come to the house - twice. Once they obsessed over one toilet, the second time they obsessed over the second one. First they said the toilet chain was 1/8-inch too long. Then they said it was 1/8-inch too short.

However, the toilet is not running and has never been running. We have not changed anything on the toilet at all, and our water bills have returned to normal. In addition, the water inspector told us that there's no way these toilet-chain lengths could have caused this problem. Unfortunately, she said this verbally and did not put that statement in writing.

5. Spoke to our City Councillor's office - twice. They called Peel and had our case bumped up to a manager, so we don't have to go through customer service each time. They said there's nothing else they can do.

6. Called the City Manager of Mississauga's office. They also offered to call Peel on our behalf, but only to see if there's someone else there we can deal with. They made it clear they can't fix the problem.

7. Called the Ontario Ombudsman's office. They are a great agency that gets results, but unfortunately, this falls outside their jurisdiction.

8. Called Mississauga Legal Aid. They said they don't handle things like this, and suggested we call Peel's legal department. Allan did that... and they referred it to the same manager we've been speaking with.

We did not have the meter checked. As the Ontario Ombudsman suggested, having the meter checked can only determine if it is working properly at the time it is checked. We already know the meter is working properly right now, because we've received a normal bill subsequent to the abnormal one. But the meter working properly today does not mean it was working properly in July, August and September of 2010.

In addition, Peel can't tell us when during the three-month period this two-years' worth of water was supposedly used. Did it happen in a day? A week? A month? Was it during the week, when one of us is home every day? Did it occur on a Saturday, when we work 12 hour shifts, then somehow repair itself before we got home? We don't know.

Allan's been handling the lion's share of this effort, but now we are both out of ideas. We don't have $500 to give to the Region of Peel for services we didn't use, but Peel will use hold us hostage for the payment by cutting off our water.

All ideas welcome.

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