With the price of water increasing in many parts of Queensland, reducing your water consumption is one way to prevent getting high water bills in the future. Households can reduce the amount of water the use by:
- Reducing the amount of water used in the shower by installing a low-flow shower head and limiting showers to four minutes or less
- Only using the washing machine or dishwasher for full loads and always using the shortest, most efficient cycle.
- Upgrading an old washing machine or dishwasher to a more water efficient model. Interest-free or low-interest loans are available through the No Interest Loan Scheme and Step-Up Loan. These programs can help you buy a new appliance and pay it off over time.
For more information and advice on saving water visit the Queensland Government website.
Leaking taps, toilets or underground pipes can waste water and result in an expensive water bill if the problem is not identified early. Customers who are aware of their water use and are vigilant about leaks can help save water and prevent unexpectedly large water bills.
What is a concealed leak?
A concealed leak is a water leak which is concealed from view. These leaks occur on the customer’s property and are generally caused by cracked water pipes – either underground or inside walls. The definition of a concealed leak can vary between water providers, but a concealed leak generally does not include:
- Leaking taps, toilet cisterns, hot water systems or water appliances.
- Faulty plumbing or human error resulting in the filling of a water tank.
- Property sprinkler or other irrigation systems.
- Swimming pools, spas, outdoor water features or related fittings.
Water customers are responsible for the water and sewerage infrastructure on their property. This means the water provider is not responsible for the cost of the water which is lost due a concealed leak. This can result in an expensive household water bill if the problem is not identified early.
What can my water provider do to help?
Under the South East Queensland (SEQ) Water and Wastewater Customer Code, all SEQ water providers must have a concealed leaks policy. Some water businesses outside SEQ also have concealed leak policies. These should be available on their website or by calling the water provider. While these policies can vary, most of them will contain:
- Definition of what is a concealed leak (compared to a general leak).
- How to physically identify concealed leaks.
- What remission or assistance is provided by the water company.
Some water retailers offer a remission on the account relating to the increased water use as a result of the concealed leak. Policies vary between retailers in terms of who is eligible and the proportion of the account that is remitted. However, generally remissions are only provided once. It is important to check the concealed leaks policy as not all customers will be eligible for assistance.
Some water providers will require a statutory declaration from a licensed plumber to confirm that the works comply with the relevant legislation and plumbing standards before they will provide any kind of remission payments to assist.
Water providers that do not have a remission program for concealed water leaks may still assist by providing customers with a payment plan to help pay off the cost of the concealed leak in smaller, more manageable instalments.
See the water providers' websites for information on concealed leaks.
Tips for identifying and managing water leaks
Visit the providers' websites for information from each water provider on identifying and managing water leaks. Also, visit Yarra Valley Water’s website for a simple two minute test to check for a concealed leak.
QCOSS has produced a number of factsheets on essential services including information about concealed water leaks and guidance about your options if you can't pay a water bill. You can print these factsheets to hand out to customers.