Water complaints and case studies

Table 5 - Water issues, January to March 2023, including the previous four quarters

Primary and secondary issue

Jan-Mar 23

Oct-Dec 22

Jul-Sep 22

Apr-Jun 22

Jan-Mar 22

Billing > high > disputed






General > energy / water






Customer service > poor service






Land > property damage / restoration






Land > network assets > maintenance






Table 6 – Water complaint breakdown, January to March 2023

Complaint type

Number of complaints


General enquiry



Complaint enquiry



Refer to higher level









Water complaints involving neighbours

Water complaints can have an extra layer of complexity if they involve a complainant’s neighbour.  

Often, an issue between neighbours is just one aspect of a complaint and EWON can assist with some aspects which are in jurisdiction. A complaint solely about a civil dispute between neighbours may be completely out of EWON’s jurisdiction.

 Customers water service disconnected by neighbour

An elderly customer contacted EWON for assistance with a water service connection complaint. He had lived on his property for several decades and his private water service had always crossed through his neighbour’s property. When his neighbour demolished and rebuilt their house, they disconnected the customer’s private water service.

There was some confusion over whether the water connection had been legal and it was unclear how the customer could get access to the water mains without costly connection works. The customer was provided with a temporary water supply pending a permanent solution.

EWON had initial discussions with the customer and water provider, and then facilitated contact between the customer and a specific team at the water provider to work together to find a permanent solution. However, the customer returned to EWON as he thought it had not provided a suitable solution.

EWON’s review showed the part of the customer’s private water service which crossed the neighbouring property was not protected by an easement. The water provider confirmed these arrangements are no longer allowed but there are legacy arrangements in some older properties.

During the building process, the neighbour disconnected the customer’s private water service where it crossed their property. The water provider arranged a temporary water supply with the consent of the neighbour and confirmed it would not disconnect it, but noted the neighbour could withdraw their consent. EWON was not able to investigate the neighbour’s actions.

To permanently connect to the water main with no property encroachment, the customer would need to apply for a new connection to the water main as per the provider’s licence and customer contract. This would usually be at the customer’s cost, but the water provider offered a tailored option to help manage the cost, taking into account the elderly customer’s circumstances. The offer would only be available to the current owner and any future owners would be responsible for the cost of establishing a water connection.

 The customer was not satisfied with the resolution offered, but we could not continue investigating based on available information and the limits of our jurisdiction. Further, we considered the resolution provided by the water provider to be fair and reasonable taking into account all the circumstances of the complaint. We told the customer he may want to seek legal advice, particularly in relation to his dispute with his neighbour over their actions.

 Customer billed from neighbour’s water meter

A customer received a water bill in May 2022 for $900, which was higher than she expected as her water bills were usually about $200 per quarter. She asked the water provider for the previous five years of bills. Her review of the bills indicated that the water provider had been billing her against the neighbour’s meter number in error. She contacted the water provider multiple times and each time it advised it would investigate and get back to her.

The customer contacted EWON as she had not received an outcome for her complaint. We referred the matter to the water provider for resolution at a higher level with the customer’s agreement and told her she could return to us if the complaint remained unresolved.

The customer returned to EWON as the complaint remained unresolved. We discussed the matter with the water provider which said the delays were because of the need to address the issue for both the customer and her neighbour. The provider confirmed the customer had been billed on the incorrect meter since August 2021, when both meters were replaced. The correct meter numbers were now recorded for both properties, and the customer’s billing was adjusted.

 For billing from August 2021 to May 2022, the water provider applied a credit of $300 covering all usage charges billed on the incorrect meter, leaving only the fixed charges for the customer to pay. EWON’s review indicated that this was a fair and reasonable outcome, particularly as the usage on the correct meter was higher than the usage on the incorrect meter. From May 2022 onwards, the customer was billed on the correct meter. With the billing revisions and credit, the balance of the account billed up to January 2023 was $700. The customer was satisfied with the outcome and confirmed she would contact the water provider to arrange payment.

 Customer considered his neighbour caused a high water bill 

A customer received a quarterly water bill for $1,000 which was high compared to his usual bills of around $400. The number of litres billed was almost double his average historical usage. He had contacted the water provider which advised him to check for leaks. His investigation discovered a tap on his neighbour’s property was connected to his water service, and he thought the neighbour had used it to fill their new pool. The water provider said this was a civil matter and it would not reduce the bill.

With the customer’s agreement, we referred the matter to the water provider for resolution at a higher level and told him he could return to us if he was unhappy with the outcome. The customer returned to EWON as he was not satisfied with the provider's offer to apply a credit of $180.

 EWON’s review found that a single property had been subdivided into the two existing properties. After the subdivision, a water tap on his neighbour’s subdivided property remained connected to his private water. The tap was disconnected once the customer discovered this. As a gesture of goodwill, the water provider offered a credit of $180, which was calculated based on its concealed leak policy. As the increase in water usage appeared to be related to a property issue between the customer and his neighbour, EWON said the credit appeared reasonable. We told the customer we could not investigate the neighbour’s use of the tap and could not tell how much water was used through the tap.

The water provider applied the credit of $180 and as the customer had made payments toward the disputed bill during the investigation, the customer’s balance was $200. The customer asked to be given a week to pay the balance, and the water provider agreed to keep a hold on the account for a week.