A family in Calgary is struggling to pay bills, but it’s not enough.
The family has been paying bills for the past four years and the only thing they can find that is work is a sprinkler system.
“It’s basically just water that comes out the pipes and we’re using it for a sprinklers,” said Lisa Smith.
She says it’s been a struggle for them to get their water purification system working.
“If we had a sprinkling system we could take water and put it on the pipes, but because it’s a whole system we have to take out the water to put it in the system and it’s hard for me to get that work done.”
Smith says it takes her family several hours to wash their clothes, clean their house, get a shower and even go to the bathroom once a week.
“I just really need to be able to have a shower, wash my hands, get the kids to school, go to work,” she said.
It’s not just the water.
There are also times when it’s just hard to get through the day.
“The main thing is we can’t get through a day if we’re sitting around the house because it gets hot and we have a water bill to pay,” said Smith.
“We can’t keep going to work, it’s tough.”
Water bills are expensive.
The Calgary Water and Wastewater District (CBWD) has a total of $8 million in unpaid bills.
That includes the costs of replacing pipes, cleaning out water tanks, replacing the pumps and even replacing the water main that feeds the water system.CBC News asked the CBWD if it was doing enough to keep people on their bills.
They replied in a statement, “The CBWD is taking action to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all of our customers and are working to make sure we are servicing our customers on a timely basis.”
The city of Calgary is expected to spend $40 million over the next few years to improve water service, including new boilers, filters and pipes.
But Smith says there’s not much money left for people to pay the bills.
“Our bill is over $150,” she told CBC News.
“And we are still paying more than $150 a month for the water we use for our lawns, our showers and our clothes.
That’s not the most we are going to be paying.”
The Smiths say their situation is frustrating.
“When we’re in our yard, I can’t even wash my own hands because it keeps getting warmer,” she added.
“There’s a lot of things we can do, but we’re not getting the money to do it.”
The CBC Calgary team is following up with the Calgary Water District on this story.