Winnipeggers brace for high water bills

WINNIPEG – Several Winnipeggers who opened their water bills this month are shocked by the high amount they owe.

“They are saying we used 109 cubic metres of water in 103 days,” said Gordon MacGregor, who is running his taps to prevent his pipes from freezing.

His latest bill is around $700. Normally, he would pay between $270 and $300. The city said it’s too difficult to adjust the bills while pipes are still frozen and taps are continuously flowing.

“Nine out of 10 times, people will see larger bills,” said Randy Hull, Winnipeg’s emergency prepardness co-ordinator. “We ask them to pay what they normally pay and the adjustments will be made later.”

MacGregor hopes his final bill will be fair.

“We’re going to have a large outstanding bill,” said the Wildwood Park resident. “Hopefully the city is paying attention to that and is understanding.”

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A little more than 6,300 homes have been warned to keep water running until as late as June or risk their pipes freezing up. It’s at a price of around $34,000 per day. Winnipeg’s mayor isn’t concerned about the cost.

“It’s no different than snow removal,” said Sam Katz. “If it snows every day, it could exceed our budget and we still go out and clear the snow. That is just the way it is.”

On Tuesday, the city opened a second Frozen Pipe Citizen Resource Centre at the Fort Rouge Leisure Centre at 625 Osborne St. This is in addition to the one at the Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex that opened over the weekend. The centres are a place for people to refill drinking water containers, shower, get information and pick up personal comfort and cleaning kits.

A third location is anticipated to be opened by the end of the week.