RESIDENTS on a huge Camberley housing estate could be in line for a "water windfall".
Those living on the Old Dean estate appear to be eligible for a rebate of almost £70 per house from Thames Water.
The payment will be made to those whose homes have a soakaway to dispose of rainwater.
And according to Surrey Heath Council, most if not all the estate's 1684 houses have this method of drainage.
If each householder lodges a successful claim, then the water company will face a total payout of almost £118,000.
It will also mean lower water rates bills in the future.
The Star was tipped off about the rebate by David Kimber of Academy Close, Old Dean.
He said: "A friend told me he's already been paid, so I've now sent off a claim form."
Mr Kimber said he was annoyed that he had heard about the rebate only by chance.
"It seems that Thames Water have been overcharging us by stealth for several years," he continued.
"What's more, the rebate can't be backdated. I think it's disgusting."
Mr Kimber added that he believed most of the estate's residents were unaware that they could be eligible for the money.
Thames Water spokesman Chris Shipway denied that the company was trying to keep its customers in the dark.
"Information about the rebate is printed on their bills," he said.
The soakaway clause was introduced on 1 April 2000 on the instructions of the water regulator, Ofwat.Mr Shipway confirmed that the rebate applied only to the year in which the claim was made, and could not be backdated.
Normally it is houses in rural areas which have soakaways. The Old Dean appears to be an exception to the rule.