Water blues

A few days ago I reported about my work this summer to rein in the enormous water consumption of my summer house.

After a few days of comparing data, it turns out that:

  1. There are positively no leakages anywhere: the water circuit is now completely exposed, pipes and connectors have been replaced even if there were no leakages, just in case.
  2. The watering of the lawn (sprinklers)  and rocky garden (drip feed) are the major culprits, requiring almost 3 cubic meters per day; I have now trimmed this to about half that with no negative consequences.
  3. The swimming pool – which I always thought to be the main reason for abnormal water consumption – turns out to be almost innocent: even if there is a leak, it must be a really small one.
  4. Even before the trimming, summer semester consumption can be estimated in 450 cubic meters, winter semester in 50 m3, inclusive of swimming pool leakages.
  5. There is a material difference between the readings of the water company meter and the readings of the meters I have installed.

The only possible conclusion is that, thanks to the faulty meter,  the water company has overbilled me at least since mid-2012, as my water consumption in this period was much higher.

The rate of over-metering however is not constant: right now it hovers around 400-500 liters per day, but that would not explain the discrepancy of the last three winters, where the billed me for 510, 520 and 1,200 cubic meters instead of 50: the over-metering can explain another 90 (= 0.5 x 180 days) so what’s the rest?

One hypothesis is that the over-metering rate changes with the system water pressure, i.e. the higher the pressure, the higher the over-metering. For the past two-three years in the area there was a construction site which obviously required a lot of water, which may have lead the water company to increase the system pressure to compensate for the huge drain. [NOTE: OK, the site story is true, but the rest of the explanation is made up]

This is not going to be an easy sell, but I must attempt it anyway, as the presumptive damage is over €8,000 plus the yet-unpaid bill for €4,500 (the one for the 1,200 m3), so today I filed a complaint follow-up with the water company in my stumbling french together with a request for an expertise on the meter, which will happen on Aug. 23rd, with results due two weeks later (?).

My experience with (Italian) utilities shows that it’s EXTREMELY difficult to get them to admit they overbilled you: we’ll see whether their French counterparts are easier to deal with. Just to cover my back as much as possible, I have also in parallel opened a case with the Mediation Service, no idea whether they will play a role.

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