A family in southwest Calgary was left flabbergasted after discovering the water portion of their monthly ENMAX bill had skyrocketed to more than 20 times the average family’s usage without explanation.

Carly Lalonde says her family’s normal water usage in a month is roughly 15 cubic metres resulting in a bill  below $100.

The Lalondes’ February water bill was approximately $2,500 after ENMAX determined the household had used 744 cubic metres of water, an amount that could fill 65 cement trucks or eight average residential swimming pools, the previous month. Prior to GST, the family was charged $1,330.72 for water and $1,114.52 for wastewater and drainage.

The following month, the meter indicated the family of five's water use had returned to normal despite the fact that, according to the Lalondes, the family had not made any drastic changes to their daily routine.

“I saw this bill and I went ‘What just happened?’” said Carly Lalonde. “The really weird thing is the usage and reading went back down to normal levels the next month even though nothing had changed.”

"We're very cautious around our water usage."

The family contacted ENMAX and the city removed and tested the home’s water meter. The testing determined the meter was accurate and ENAX says the family has to pay the massive bill.

The Lalondes hired a plumber and an irrigation specialist to check the property for any leaks. The only issue detected was a minor toilet leak incapable of significantly increasing a water bill. “There was nothing. There's no flooding.” The results of the reports were shared with ENMAX but the organization refused to budge on the amount owing.

ENMAX officials told CTV Calgary’s Consumer Watch reporter Lea Williams-Doherty that the Lalondes must pay even if there is no evidence of major leaks nor an explanation for where the water went.

“We know the water was flowing through,” said Gina Sutherland, ENMAX Corporation representative. “Where it went we don't know and can't speculate.”

“We empathize with the customer and we’ll continue to work with her to manage those payments.”

It appears the presumption is against the consumer when it comes to billing discrepancies related to inexplicable utility use. Consumers may elect to appeal to the utility company, the utility consumers advocate or to file in small claims court.  

With files from CTV’s Lea Williams-Doherty.