1Know the complaint
  • Take your time
  • Clarify the issues
  • Consider a resolution
2Read our website and FAQs  
3Try to resolve  
4Seek Further Assistance  

Understanding a high water bill

Many factors can contribute to a high water bill. It is not necessarily a mistake. Understanding why your bill is high is a process of elimination. Is it because you have used more water? Is it because you are paying more for what you do use?

It is important to understand your bill before contacting your water retailer.

Taking time to read the bill properly and compare it to previous bills will help you understand why the bill is higher; and then you will be able to address the issue more effectively.

Let us guide you through some of the most common causes of high bills.

Have you used more water?

Every water bill contains valuable information about your usage.

There is a graph on your bill showing your ‘Daily water use’ for this period compared to the same period for the previous three years. Compare your current usage to past usage, to see if it has increased.

To understand why you may have used more water, look at the billing dates on the bill and think about what happened during that period.

  • Did somebody in your household spend more time than usual at home, or did you have guests staying?
  • Did you use an evaporative air conditioner more during a hot period?
  • Did you buy or use any additional appliances – a washing machine, dishwasher, hot water system?
  • Did you do any additional landscaping or gardening, including watering plants or lawn?


You can do your own estimation of how much water you use on a regular day.

To do this:

  • Take a meter read at a set time on a typical day.
  • Take another read the next day at the same time.
  • The difference between the two meter reads is the amount you used in the last 24 hours.

When you compare your meter read with the ‘daily water use’ on the high bill and find that you are still using a high volume of water, you may need to seek advice about how to manage your usage and reduce future bills.

What if there is a leak?

If you believe that the increase in usage may be due to a leak then there are a number of points to consider:

  • Remember that a leak occurring in the non-private pipework before the meter will not register as usage on your meter, and will not affect your bill.
  • If there is a leak at the meter, then you will need to arrange for SA Water to test your meter and repair the leak.
  • Any leak in the private pipework from your property to the meter, is the responsibility of the account holder, and you should organise a plumber to locate and repair the leak as soon as possible to avoid ongoing high bills.

If you discover a concealed leak in your private pipework, SA Water may provide a one-off payment of a ‘leakage allowance’ if certain conditions are met.

Is there a ‘balance brought forward’?

Had you paid all outstanding amounts before your current bill was issued? If not, then your bill is likely to include any previously unpaid amounts.

Your bill will show you the following figures:

  • Previous balance – The amount owing, or in credit, on your previous bill.
  • Amount paid – The amount paid towards the account since the previous bill was issued.
  • New charges – The charges for the current billing period.
  • Current balance – Any previously unpaid amounts, plus the new charges, equal the total current balance owing, or in credit.

You may think you have received a high bill when in fact your new charges are in line with your previous bills. If old charges remain unpaid, they will be added to the new charges and result in a larger amount owing.

If you need assistance with payment options you should contact your water retailer.

Have you checked the meter details?

Do check that the meter number on the bill matches the meter number(s) at your property.

If they do not match, you should immediately contact your retailer.

Additional charges or missing concessions?

Are there any unexpected fees or charges applied to the account?

Are any expected concessions missing?

If so, you should contact your water retailer.

Links and further information