As a 17-year resident, Tim Wilton says the Natick Water Department should have noticed something was wrong with his water meter.
But instead, it just sent him the quarterly bill without a second thought.
On Aug. 26, Wilton asked Natick's Board of Selectmen for an abatement to his latest bill of $2,380, saying a buried hose that had a leak is to blame. He argued he should only pay his average ($380) because the water was never used.
"I got an abatement on the sewer part of the bill," he said. "Instead of getting a monthly bill, I'm getting it every three months. If I had known sooner, I could have stopped (the leak)."
Wilton's argument was met with silence.
"My sense is the silence you hear is beause the Board of Selectmen seldom abate for use," Vice Chair Joshua Ostroff said. "It's only happened once in the seven-plus years I've been on the Board. (The water) was used, it needs to be paid for."
Ostroff added all residents are responsible for their water usage.
"I didn’t exactly use the water," Wilton said. "It just went out into wetlands behind my house."
"I’m sympathetic but I couldn’t support the motion to reduce charges," Ostroff said. "We can use this opportunity to tell people, once a month, check your water meter. It may save you $1,000."
Wilton said he doubts residents would be willing to check their meters daily.
"I’d have to agree with Mr. Ostroff," Chair Carol Gloff said. "It isn’t the town’s responsibility to monitor anyone’s water usuage. It’s a courtesy if they sent a notice (but) a town has no obligation."
Ostroff said he was OK with waiving the penalties on the bill, which has yet to be paid, and that Wilton wouldn’t have to come to a meeting for that vote.
"We’ll be in touch over the next couple of days," Town Administrator Martha White told Wilton.