The watergeek partnership were engaged by property management company Colliers International to lead the resolution of a dispute between the water company and the owners of the shopping centre.
The water company had not billed the owner for water since they bought the centre in 2009 and had just discovered a meter which showed consumption of around 30m3 per day.
They were preparing to retrospectively charge for the volume of water used from 2009 which would have meant charges of around £146,000 plus standing charges of around £16,000 because the centre was supplied by a 100mm pipe.
The owners had no idea how to handle the dispute and the water company were insistent that the bill should be paid.
The watergeek team adopted a 3 strand strategy to resolve the dispute.
The team benchmarked the site comparing it with 15 similar sites and the consumption was around 8 times what would be expected from a site of this kind. This indicated that there was leakage somewhere on the site.
Our team carried out a full site audit and performed a simple drop test analysis which revealed two things, first of all that there was no excess usage in the 8 retail units and that there was a leak of around 30m3 per day under the car park between the water company meter and the buildings.
Leakage which occurs after the water company meter is the responsibility property owner so we arranged to get this resolved as soon as possible.
Our team arranged for data from the water meter to be recorded for one week, and arranged for an ultrasonic survey to be carried out to find the exact location of the leak.
The leak was repaired outside working hours by our civil engineering partner and the data from the meter was collected for a further week. The result was that after the leak repair consumption had dropped by 28m3 per day.
The watergeek partnership made the case to the water company that because they had not submitted meter readings to the customer, neither they or the customer could monitor the excessive water usage and therefore the water bill should only reflect the actual water use rather than the consumption caused by the leaks.
This was agreed and the customer was only billed for 2m3 per day of actual consumption
We also found found that there were allowances which were available and which could be backdated once additional information could be obtained from Land and Property Services NI. The LPSNI information was obtained quickly by the watergeek team and submitted to the water company along with a claim for backdated allowances.
This was also agreed which meant that the customer was only billed for 1.73m3 per day resulting in a water bill of £6272 plus including standing charges which were also reduced by £500 per annum because a fire hydrant was discovered by the watergeek team during the site water audit.
What our customer said
We appointed John Kerr of the watergeek partnership to assist us with a challenging project at Spires Shopping Centre in Armagh.
The results which John’s team were able to achieve, were far above our expectations and meant that our client is only paying the minimum water charges going forward and that a potential retrospective bill for over £130,000 was cleared from their account.