Water complaints and case studies

224 water complaints

Table 4 – Top five water issues, July to September 2023, including the previous four quarters

Primary and secondary issue

Jul – Sep 23 Apr – Jun 23 Jan – Mar 23 Oct – Dec 22 Jul – Sep 22

Billing > high > disputed  






General > energy / water  






Customer service > poor service  






Customer service > failure to response  





Customer service > incorrect advice / information 


Table 5 – Water complaint breakdown, April to June 2023 

Complaint type

Number of complaints


General enquiry



Complaint enquiry



Refer to higher level










Water complaints

While complaints to EWON about water are traditionally fewer than those about electricity and gas, they can be complex and stressful for customers. We receive complaints about a wide range of issues, from high bills to customer service issues, however we also receive complaints that involve leaks, issues with sewerage and claims for damages. Due to the nature and complexity of water infrastructure, customers are often unsure who is responsible for repairs or damage.  

The following complaints highlight a range of issues that customers have contacted EWON about this quarter.  

Case study  Water pipes blocked by a tree on council property 

A customer who was also a pensioner had ongoing issues with his bathroom plumbing. A pipe extended from his toilet at the side of the property and ran across a nearby park before joining the sewer mains.   

A tree in the park on council land had caused damage to the pipes in the past. When this happened, the customer had issues with bathroom drainage and clogging, and had to engage plumbers, at his own cost, which he couldn’t afford.  

He had previously contacted the local council and was told the water provider was responsible for the pipes. The water provider had fixed the issue in the past under a hardship arrangement. On 30 March 2023, the customer contacted his water provider as he was having plumbing issues again. He was told the pipes were not their responsibility and they would not provide a hardship arrangement. He couldn’t arrange for a plumber to fix the pipes because they were on council land and the council considered that the pipes are the water provider’s responsibility. The customer was concerned about the health, safety and hygiene risk and who was responsible.  

The customer nominated an advocate to speak with EWON on his behalf, and the complaint was referred to a specialist team at the water provider for resolution, however the advocate returned to EWON as he had not been able to resolve the issue.  

EWON requested information from the water provider including copies of sewer diagrams and property lines. Our review indicated the customer’s sewer line ran 30 meters through the park, and he was responsible for his own sewer lines until it connected to the water provider mains. This meant the customer was responsible for maintaining pipes, past his property boundary. The water provider suggested the customer could arrange for a new connection, at the rear of the property, however this would be at the customer’s own cost.  

The water provider had assisted the customer in the past by flushing the pipes through a plumbing program. 

"" EWON provided information to the advocate that explained the responsibilities of private sewer pipes and connections to the mains. The advocate advised that he was currently liaising further with the council regarding the private line, and we provided referrals to the advocate on how to raise a dispute with the council if they were unable to resolve the issue. 


Case study Claim denied by water provider for motorbike damage 

A customer submitted a claim to a water provider for damage to his motorbike. In June 2022, there was water seeping onto a road near the customer’s property. Multiple residents submitted complaints to the water provider, however the issue was not fixed. In August 2022, part of the road sank by approximately 20 centimeters and created a pothole in the road. The customer had ridden into the hole, resulting in injuries to himself and damage to his motorbike.  

The water provider repaired the potholes in the road within a few days of the incident. The customer contacted the water provider to claim for the damage, however it said it didn’t accept responsibility for the damage to his motorbike. The customer contacted EWON as he considered the water provider didn’t act in repairing the leak or the pothole in the road.  

"" EWON contacted the water provider which made an offer to resolve the customer's complaint. It advised that it was willing to pay the customer $7,500 for the damage to his motorbike and protective gear, taking into account depreciation. The water provider advised that the offer was made without any admission of liability and was in the interest of resolving the complaint. The customer accepted the offer and was satisfied with the outcome.  


Case study Sewerage smell at property 

A customer had reported the smell of sewerage at her property to her water provider. The smell was coming from a manhole located in the street outside the supply address. The water provider had attended to investigate, however hadn’t found any blockages. She said she had contacted the provider several times due to the strength of the smell, and her neighbours were also experiencing issues with the smell, and they hadn’t been able to resolve the longstanding issue.  

EWON contacted the water provider to obtain more information and it said it would undertake smoke testing in the area to determine where the smell might be coming from. The water provider completed the smoke testing in May 2023, and found six assets allowing smoke to escape. The water provider raised service orders to complete works to prevent odours escaping and additional service orders to bolt down and seal manholes in the area. It also said smoke was seen escaping from a number of properties, and may require additional works, such as installation of boundary traps or plumbing intervention to the private property to reduce odours from escaping the sewer.  

"" The customer was referred to liaise with the water provider directly to see if the implemented measures reduced the ongoing smell from the sewer and was advised that she could return to EWON for further assistance, if required.