Ontario woman shocked by $6,200 bill for water she didn't know was being used

An Ontario woman is shocked to be stuck with a water bill for more than $6,200 because of a leaky toilet.

Daniel Stronach helps his sister Georgia Stronach, who lives Aurora, because she has health issues. He manages her home ownership matters and utility bills.

They both got a huge surprise in January when they got a water bill for $3,864, which was linked to a leaky toilet.

"We had no identifiable knowledge that something was out of whack" said Daniel Stronach who added "I think it might have been a bathroom in the basement and the basement is not used really."

But they were even more surprised when the next water bill had risen to $6,227 after they thought the problem was resolved.

They were alerted by the water department with the Town of Aurora in mid-December that there appeared to be a potential leak in the home, but by the time they found out and fixed the toilet issue almost three weeks had passed and they were into a new billing cycle.

When Daniel Stronach called to complain on his sister’s behalf he was told they had to pay up.

"We have to pay the bill anyway, because if you don't pay it, they will put a lien on your house," said Daniel Stronach.

When CTV News Toronto reached out to the Town of Aurora, Manager of Communications Carley Smith said in a statement “Water and wastewater billings are issued quarterly and are based on water consumed as registered on your water meter. The Town reached out to the contact on file in December to alert the resident of a potential water leak.”

“Water customers are responsible for all water used, as recorded by their water meter. This includes water consumed by a resident and caused by a leak. The Town has been in touch with the resident to offer payment plan options as well information on other support programs such as the seniors tax deferral program,” said Smith.

Aurora bills for water every three months, and Daniel Stronach feels there should be a mechanism in place to warn customers if they're using a lot more water than they normally do.

"It's almost like a credit card. If you have oddities they immediately pick up and call you. These situations where it's a three month delay. That's crazy," said Daniel Stronach.

Aurora has advice on it's website on how to check for toilet leaks such as adding food colouring in the tank and waiting to see if the colour leaks into the bowl.

While Daniel Stronach was hopeful he could help his sister Georgia lower the $6,227 water bill, the best officials can do is allow her to pay in monthly installments over the next 12 to 15 months.

In addition to leaky toilets, running taps are the second most common reason for high water bills. If you have a bathroom in a basement you rarely use you may want to shut off the water supply to it which can prevent leaks and unexpected big bills.