Dubai resident shocked by Dh20,179 utility bill after water leak in garden during holiday

The Briton's August bill shows he consumed 319,200 gallons of water, which can fill nearly half of an Olympic swimming pool


Mazhar Farooqui

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Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Published: Wed 30 Aug 2023, 4:06 PM

Last updated: Tue 24 Oct 2023, 1:15 PM

A resident of Damac Hills 2 was left stunned upon returning from holiday after receiving a Dh20,179 bill from the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa). British expat David Richard Spours said the staggering amount was not a mistake, attributing it to a water leak in his garden during his summer break in the UK.

The bill summary shared by Spours with Khaleej Times shows a breakdown: Dh1,383.17 for electricity; Dh1,804.42 for Dubai Municipality fees; and a whopping Dh16,992.38 for water for the month of August.

"It's insane; I don't know what to do," said Spours, who has until September 11 to settle the bill. He explained that he discovered the water leak on August 11, the day he returned from the UK. "It was caused by a faulty float valve in the tank, leading to the water tank overflowing and leaking continuously for 30 days," he added. "According to the Dewa bill, it shows that I consumed 319,200 gallons of water."

Spours said he raised the issue with Dewa, contending that he had not received any alerts regarding the unusual consumption. In response to his e-mail, Dewa replied, stating that the smart metres are designed to detect continuous consumption for a minimum of 48 hours, a duration significantly longer than the average daily water consumption over the last three months.

Dewa, in their e-mail, clarified further: "The smart metre in your premise could not identify the rise in consumption falling under this category, due to which the alert was not generated and sent to you," they stated. "It's the customer's responsibility to rectify any internal water leaks."

The e-mail also underlined that the "unusual consumption (alert) is a courtesy to our customers and does not guarantee that every leak will be detected by Dewa".

Spours said he was just a tenant and any water leak caused by a faulty valve should essentially be the responsibility of the landlord or the developer.

"That said, if I had known about the leak and the hefty bill it would lead to, I would have either asked my neighbour to fix it or flown back from the UK to handle it myself. I might have even opted for a business class ticket, and it still wouldn't have cost me as much," he said.

Meanwhile, another Damac Hils 2 resident posted about getting a Dewa bill of Dh18,000.

Dewa regularly advises residents to keep an eye on their water usage to avoid unexpectedly high bills. The authority suggests hiring a professional to check for leaks since pipes can expand or burst in hot weather, even the underground ones.

To monitor your water consumption, turn off all taps and appliances using water, like the washing machine and dishwasher. Then, check your water metre reading. If it goes up after an hour, you likely have a leak, Dewa has said in the past.

Dewa also offers an 'Away Mode' service for people who are travelling, providing regular e-mails on water usage.

In July 2023, Dewa's R&D centre introduced an advanced smart facility that can simulate water pipeline leaks. This facility uses IoT technology so it can be monitored and controlled remotely, with sensors collecting data on pressure, flow, and temperature. Machine learning models trained on this data can detect leaks with 94.4 per cent accuracy. Ongoing experiments aim to further improve leak detection algorithms and sensors.


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