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Water is billed at 1,000 gallon increments. If you are consistent in water usage, it is possible your bill will be the same for up to several months at a time. For example, if you used 3,200 gallons one month, you will only be billed for 3,000 gallons. Your meter tracks ongoing usage similar to an odometer on your vehicle. So if you average 3,200 gallons each month, after 5 months, your reading will then pick up the additional accumulated 1,000 gallons and your billed consumption will be 4,000 gallons for that fifth month.
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The City reads your meter electronically through a component that is attached to your meter, called an endpoint. This device tracks historical water consumption that flows through the meter on an hourly basis. Once a month, city staff drives by and pulls this information electronically and downloads it into the billing system.
Since sewer waste cannot be metered like water is, sewer volume billed to residents is calculated based on the customer’s average water usage during the most recent winter months of December, January, and February. This is based on the assumption that during winter months, the majority of your water usage goes down the sewer drain and not absorbed into the ground like it does during summer months when lawn watering is most likely to take place. Your sewer volume is calculated in March each year and remains the same each month until the following March.
Since your sewer bill is based on your average water consumption during the winter months, a leak during those 3 months could cause your sewer bill to go up for the following year. If this happens, you may contact our Utility Customer Service department and request a re-calculation of your sewer bill once your leak has been fixed and water usage goes back to normal. We will be more than happy to adjust it for you.
The 2 most common reasons for a high water bill are the following:
1. Consumer used more water
Water consumption typically increases drastically during the summer months due to lawn watering, kids being out of school, and filling a pool. An average size 21-foot round pool with a depth of 48 inches can hold 13,500 gallons of water. This can increase your water bill by over $80. Additionally, water irrigation systems can use a lot of water. For instance, each turf zone can use an average of 12 gallons per minute. So if you use 4 zones for only 30 minutes per day, you will consume 1,440 gallons of water a day. Even if you only water your lawn twice a week, you will consume 11,520 gallons of water a month at an estimate cost of over $70. For more information on additional water consumption for typical uses, as well as ways you can conserve water, click here.
2. Water leak
Unfortunately, water leaks happen often and can result in a high water bill. Some leaks are hard to detect and the first clue of a leak is typically a high water bill. A toilet leak, depending on the severity, can waste anywhere from 30 gallons a day up to as much as 4,000 gallons a day.
Please go to “How to Read Your Water Bill” document for detailed information on the components that make up your water bill.
Your bill is solely based on the amount of water you use, regardless of the size of your home. Whether you have one bathroom or four, unless the size of your family changes, you will still likely use a bathroom just as often, and you will likely have similar appliances that use water.
Your water consumption is dependent upon how often you use your water, how well you conserve water (how often and how long are your showers or baths, how often you wash clothes and dishes, etc.), whether you water your lawn or not, and how efficient your appliances and toilets are. If you want information on how much water a typical household of your size uses and tips on reducing your water consumption, click here.
Leaks do not always show up in your yard. Leaks coming from inside your house will more than likely go down the sewer drain and not in your yard. Some leaks located outside your house may not always show up as a puddle. There are other signs you can look for to determine if you have a leak in your service line. Click here to see tips to help you find a leak.
Beginning in March of each year, your water bill will be updated to include the new sewer consumption that you will be charged over the next 12 months. If you notice a change in your monthly sewer charge, it is due to a change in your normal water consumption during the winter months of December, January, and February. It is important to understand this process because you can control the amount of sewer you are billed for each year.
Sewer is billed based on your water consumption during the winter months because that is the period when most of the water used goes directly into the sanitary sewer system versus being used for outdoor watering. The City takes your water consumption during those three months in December, January, and February, and calculates an average monthly consumption. That is the consumption that is used to bill you for sewer over the next 12 months. If you had a water leak during those three months, it will affect your sewer charges. It is important to monitor your water consumption and fix leaks promptly to keep your water consumption down, and especially during the winter time to keep your sewer bills down to a minimum
Irrigation systems and water sprinklers can use a lot of water, even when used minimally. It is important to monitor your outside watering to avoid costly bills from overuse or leaks.
Proper seasonal scheduling of your irrigation system is just as important as the condition of your system. Perform system evaluations on a regular basis looking for proper coverage. Install a rain sensor if you don’t have one. Follow these simple steps to apply just the right amount of water your landscape needs:
Get to know your controller. Most controllers have multiple start times, multiple programs and seasonal adjustment capabilities. These can be used to your advantage, but watch out for accidental excessive scheduling. Controllers often run at night when you can’t see if a sprinkler head is missing, or cycle times are excessive.
Start low and, if needed, increase incrementally.
Infrequent, deep watering helps increase root health. Base your station times on plant material, sun exposure, and what type of emitter is watering that area.
Hand water stressed areas and high water need plants. Even the best irrigation systems apply more water in some areas than they do in others. Use a hose to put water where you need it.
Match your watering to the season. Plants will need less watering in the spring and fall, and almost no additional watering in the winter when most plants go dormant. In fact, it’s a good idea to turn your irrigation system off in the winter months.
Click here for information on the amount of water your irrigation system will use.
Finding a water leak in your home can be a difficult task. Luckily we have a guide on how to find a water leak in your house.