The water meter on your property is a shared responsibility between the property owner and Coffs Harbour City Council.
Your Water Meter and Service Responsibilities
- Council is only responsible for the water meter and the water service leading up to the meter. Any plumbing after the water meter is the responsibility of the property owner.
In order to help us read and maintain the water meter, it is the property owner's responsibility to ensure the meter is readily accessible at all times. This means that the area around and above the meter must be kept clear of obstructions and vegetation.
If you change the ground level around your water meter (by gardening or landscaping, etc) so that the distance from the ground level to the underside of the meter is less than 200mm, then you must have your water meter raised. Council must be contacted for a quote and once the property owner has paid the quoted price, Council will raise the water meter to legal height.
It is the property owner's responsibility to ensure that the meter is adequately protected.
The cost incurred by Council to repair any damage to the meter or meter point is recoverable from the property owner.
Coffs Harbour City Council Water Meter and Service Responsibilities
Legally, any repairs up to and including the water meter can only be carried out by Council staff. It is an offence for anyone other than Council staff to disconnect or tamper with the water meter or any apparatus fitted to the service line.
If you are unsure of your liability, you should contact Council on 02 6648 4000 during business hours.
All new water meter services require the completion of a 'Water Service Agreement' signed by the property owner and a licensed plumber. In cases where the applicant is not the owner, a signed statement from the current property owner is required.
The following should be noted when applying for a new water service:
- The agreement is considered as a binding agreement.
- The service is subject to all conditions on the agreement.
- A clear adequate diagram showing the required location of the water meter is required.
- New services are to be adequately protected.
Please Note: The cost of any repairs for damaged service is the property owner's responsibility.
- All meters remain the property of Coffs Harbour Water.
Other conditions as per agreement.
Water Services Agreement
There are different types of water meters which have to be read differently, but the most common water meters in Coffs Harbour are like reading your car odometer. Your water bill is charged by the amount of kilolitres (kL) you have used. 1 Kilolitre = 1,000 litres of water. Kilolitres are usually black figures on white background.
This meter has a reading of 2,653 kilolitres. The small dials indicate 100s, 10s, 1s & 1/10s of litres.
This meter has a reading of 853 kilolitres. The red figures show the number of litres used (721.9).
For most single dwelling properties, your water meter should be located somewhere along the front boundary of your property. If you can't find your water meter, you can telephone Coffs Harbour City Council on 02 6648 4000 to find out where it is.
A higher than expected water account could be due to a number of reasons including:
- Extra occupants at the premises during the reading period (friends or family visiting etc)
- The installation of new kitchen or laundry water using appliances
- Water used in establishing new lawns or gardens
- Water used on lawns and gardens during dry weather periods
- Water used in refilling a swimming pool
- Dripping taps or leaking toilet cisterns
- An incorrect meter reading
If you cannot explain the increase in your water account you may have a concealed water leak.
How do I check for a Concealed Water Leak
STEP 1. When you know there should be no water being used at the premise (i.e. no-one inside and all automatic watering systems have been shut off), check your water meter to see if any of the red numbers (or the small wheel) are moving or if you can hear the meter ticking. The water meter should be stationary (and silent) if no water is being used at the premise.
STEP 2. Alternatively you could read your water meter last thing at night and first thing in the morning (or during an extended time period where no water is being used). If there is any change in the readings, then this can also indicate that a possible leak exists.
STEP 3. Check externally around the property for any unusual wet or damp patches.
If you believe you have a concealed water leak, you may need to call a licenced plumber to fix the problem. Whether or not to call a plumber is something that you must decide for yourself, as a plumber will usually charge you a fee, even if they do not have to carry out any work.
A licenced plumber must carry out all repairs to your private water pipes, but not to the water meter or the water service in front of your property. Tenants in rental properties should discuss this matter with their agent or landlord in the first instance.
Once water has passed through the water meter it becomes the responsibility of the property owner. However, in certain circumstances, you may be eligible to ask Council to consider adjusting a higher than normal water account if it was caused by a defective water service.
On 1st July, 2013, Council introduced a Water Account Adjustment (Concealed Leaks) Policy. This Policy clearly sets out the Terms and Conditions which must be met for a property owner to be eligible for an adjustment to a water account. Some of these Terms and Conditions are:
- The defect must have been in a plumbed water pipe.
- The defect must have been such that it was not readily visible or apparent.
- Council must be satisfied that there was immediate and effective action to repair the defect and therefore minimise water loss.
- Repairs must be carried out by a licensed plumber.
Customers are encouraged to read the Policy in full to become familiar with all of the Terms and Conditions.
Any request for an adjustment must be made using the Application for Water Account Adjustment (Concealed Leak). This Application includes a section to be completed by the licensed plumber repairing the leak, where the plumber must declare:
- Their current licence number
- The date and nature of the repair
- Confirmation that the defect was not readily visible or apparent
- The leak was repaired to Australian Standards
Please Note: NO ADJUSTMENTS will be considered for defective (leaking) fixtures and appliances such as taps, toilets, automatic-watering systems, water tanks or hot water systems.
Water Account Adjustment (Concealed Leak) Policy
Application for Water Account Adjustment (Concealed Leak)
Faulty water meters are a rare occurrence as Council has a meter exchange program which ensures our meters are replaced periodically, in accordance with industry standards. When a faulty water meter is discovered, the usage recorded by the meter is generally less than the actual water used at the premise meaning that the fault is in favour of the customer.
If you feel that your water meter is reading inaccurately there are a few simple steps you can follow;
To test the accuracy of the meter yourself:
Use a standard sized 240 litre domestic garbage bin.
Before commencing the test, ensure that no one is using water to flush toilets, shower etc. and that other appliances, such as a dishwasher, washing machine etc. are not in use.
Write down all the number that appears on the meter.
Fill the bin up using a hose with water from a tap inside your property boundaries.
When full immediately turn off the tap and the bin will contain 240 litres of water.
Write down all the number that now appears on the meter.
If the meter is working correctly it should have recorded 240 litres of water usage going through the meter.
If you find your meter is inaccurately recording from completing this test, a council water meter test can be requested to confirm this under the following conditions:
We charge a fee for water meter testing; the fee is based on meter size and test type. The fee must be paid upfront prior to any testing being carried out.
If the meter registers above 3% of accurate, the test fee will be refunded to you.
We will only consider a water meter to be inaccurate if it records 3% inaccurate to the volume of water passing through it under pressure.
To be eligible to apply of a pension rebate on your rates and charges you must be the person liable for the rates and annual charges on the property. The property must be your sole or principal residence, and you must have a current pensioner concession card.
All NSW councils give a mandatory rebate to eligible pensioners of up to $87.50 off water charges.
This is made up of two parts. If a full pension rebate is granted for the financial year, this will reduce the Water Access Charge by 50% on your rates and the remainder apportioned over the four water consumption accounts.
Please note: if you start receiving a pension after the commencement of the quarterly bill period you will receive a rebate on your next quarterly water bill.
If you cease to qualify as an eligible pensioner or you sell your property you will not receive future rebates on your water bill.
Please contact Council on 02 6648 4000 if you would like further information on pension rebates.