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Your Water Bill Explained

Ever wonder what those line items on your bi-monthly bill represent?  Well we have that below, but first, let’s start with a broad overview of what it takes to maintain the City’s water and sewer system.  Overall, the City collects about 65% of its revenues based on the amount of water that is used and 35% from base charges.  The City’s costs are actually the reverse of this – only 30% of our costs are based on water purchases and wastewater treatment; the remaining 70% are fixed costs for maintenance staff, required testing, and general maintenance of the system.  Therefore, as revenues go down with reduced water usage (i.e. during a drought), the City may* need to increase rates to ensure our continued ability to provide clean and safe water as well as proper disposal of wastewater so it doesn’t impact the ecosystem.

Now, below are explanations of the various charges on your bi-monthly water and sewer bill are determined. 

  • Water Use – Charge is based on the number of units of water used in a two month period.
  • Water Service – A flat amount based on the size of the meter.
  • Sewer – Charge is based on the amount of water used during the winter months (Mid-October to Mid-February).  It changes once a year on the April bill.
  • Capital Project Charge – Charge is based on the amount of water used between Mid-February and Mid-June.  It changes once a year in August.  This charge pays for a $5,000,000 bond for capital projects, and was approved by the Council on November 20, 2014, and became effective with the March 2015 bill.
  • Drought Contingency Charge – Charge is based on whether the user is a residential/commercial account or landscape account.  If it is a residential/commercial account then the charge is either $2.32 a billing period if the account uses less than the median amount of water used by other users or $6.99 a billing period if they use more.  Landscape users are charged $102.14 a billing period.   During the last drought the City was down $400,000 in revenues for the year. 

*The fund will accumulate money so rates do not need to be increased during periods of droughts.  The City Council determined that instead of increasing rates during a drought, we should set up a reserve account.  The Drought Contingency Charge was therefore established, and became effective with the April 2018 bill.