Why is my bill so high?
The most common billing question we get related to a high bill is something like the following:
How could I have used 20,000 gallons of water in month?
Water likes to take the path of least resistance. At our normal system pressure of 60 psi, 400,000 gallons can pass through the ¼” line feeding one toilet bowl if it ran steady for 30 days, so that level of loss is certainly conceivable over a matter of days. In extreme cases, we have found water loss of just over 120,000 gallons from an inside fixture and 140,000 loss from an outside spigot being left on. Thankfully, that type of monthly water is rare. However, even small losses can have big financial impacts. Many of these losses can be found by the home or business owner before they become a problem while vacant properties can actually be the biggest risk as a result.
Our first target when discussing water loss is the humble $8 toilet bowl flapper. Flappers get picked on so often because they prove to be the source of water loss in over 60% of cases. The recourse when there is any type of abnormal flow is that we are required to bill what flows through the meter but then have an adjustment process that allows us to remove half of both the water and sewer increase for up to two consecutive months since it’s likely that the loss will fall across two billing periods. However, to qualify for that credit, a repair of some sort has to be made, even if that is replacement of a flapper:
Meters become less accurate in your favor as they age due to scaling and wear in the mechanical parts. Your meter is also read by radio transmitter. While that has greatly increased billing accuracy since the days of reading by hand, once readings have been confirmed by sight as being consistent and accurate, we have little way of knowing where the water went. We simply bill based on water flow. The sewer portion of the bill is based on how much water flows through the water meter so that portion will always increase as well. Plus, the first 1,000 gallons of usage is included in the base rate which helps reduce wild differences in the billing over time. As far as how the calculations are done, you can use a calculation spreadsheet on our website that may be helpful:
Nationwide average for water usage is 300 gallons per day for a single family residence. We presently have no means to determine precisely when the flow occurred. Within the next four years, each of our meters will be converted to the type that would track flow by the hour when there is abnormal flow.
Should I Call a Plumber?
Before you call a plumber to check for leaks, please consider that most water loss is from intermittent causes, not broken pipes. In those cases, a plumber will take one look at the meter, see no flow and charge you for their time. Plus, most of the diagnoses for water loss can be performed by you. At the least, we suggest filling a bucket with five gallons of water at a spigot outside to help confirm that the meter reads accurately while increasing your confidence in the process. We then suggest monitoring the flow over a few weeks, making note of the change in reading daily to determine a trend in how water is being used. If you spot a cause for the loss, you can then pursue the leak adjustment credit process mentioned above. If no cause is found, we are unable to process an adjustment.
Thanks in advance for doing what you can to help conserve water by finding the cause for the water loss. If you are not familiar with how to read the meter, we hope this video may be helpful:
Other Questions or Concerns
If you do not have a high bill but have other questions or concerns about the billing process, please contact our Customer Service team at 912-261-7100 during business hours or email firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.