Farmers who were left reeling by a water company’s actions have warned others to check their agreements and bills carefully.
Stephen Thompson of Povey Farm, Sheffield, said a mix-up between his farm’s meter readings and somebody with the same surname left him with a bill of more than £14,000 for one year’s water usage.
The actual bill was for just more than £1,000.
Throughout the 10 months disputing the inaccuracy with provider Water Plus, Mr Thompson said the farm – including his 89-year-old mother – had been threatened with the supply being cut off and a potential lawsuit.
But, despite admitting the readings applied to Mr Thompson’s account had not fallen in line with the readings provided by engineers, Water Plus had still failed to respond to a request for further compensation.
Mr Thompson said he was left with no other option but to complain to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater) and is now seeking compensation.
Water Plus said it would reimburse just 0.279 per cent of the incorrect bill.
Mr Thompson said: “To say the least I am not happy with them, but it seems we are not the only ones.”
Agricultural contractor John Gardner, Ashorne, Warwickshire said he and the farm’s 40 animals were left without water for four days in June when temperatures rose above 30 degC.
The farm was treated as a business and not residential, Mr Gardner said, which had caused the problem.
"Yes we are farmers but we live on the farm,” he added. “It could have been a major welfare issue.
"We are concerned for other farmers who live on the premises. They need to be aware that they need to speak to their supplier.”
Water Plus said it was working with the NFU and other industry bodies on the priority currently given to farmers and sites with livestock when there are interruptions to water supplies, but reiterated water supply pipes on private land and their maintenance were the responsibility of the landowner or tenant.
A spokesperson added: “We are running a campaign to highlight further information to farmers including what to keep in mind when it comes to water supplied to their sites, checking water meters regularly, knowing the location of stop taps on land and taking steps to be prepared for any potential water supply interruptions.”