Halifax — South End Halifax resident Dave Batten received a horrifying surprise in the mail recently. The divorced father of a young son opened his water bill and noticed it had shot up by $100 over his previous billing. In an effort to save money, he plans to return some of the water to the offices of the Halifax Water utility before the due date of his invoice.
“I have a pretty modest lifestyle so I don’t understand how I could have such a high bill,” lamented Batten. “I take showers and do laundry as much as the next guy — which is to say not much — and I haven’t changed my habits in the last month. What do they want from me?”
Batten lives in a cozy two-room apartment with all utilities included in his rent except for water. His previous water bills all showed totals of less than $100. His billing history dating back to the first few months of his renting the apartment proved that the fluctuation was minimal to none.
Batten asked the water authority to explain his bill to him. When no sufficient answer was provided, he decided he needed to take action: he painstakingly started to gather up water from around his apartment to return to the utility. He emptied the water-filter pitchers from his fridge into some empty two-litre pop bottles. He melted all the ice cubes from his freezer into a bucket adding another few litres. He poured most of the water from his dog’s bowl into a Tupperware container.
His plan is to load everything up into his neighbour’s truck and see if Halifax Water will give him a partial credit. “Even if they shave $20 off the final bill it would help a lot,” said Batten. “I have no problem with the quality of the water — I just don’t see how I could be billed so much for using so little.”
J.R. Salem — the neighbour with the truck — lives in the apartment right next to Batten. A full-time spoon collector, he fears what an increased water bill means to his life and livelihood.
“My spoons need to be washed daily by hand. A higher water bill might mean I will have to resort to dusting them instead,” explained Salem, who is joining Dave in his attempt to knock some dollars off his invoice by returning unused water from his apartment.
At the time of publication, phone calls and emails to Halifax Water seeking comment were not returned.