Identifying the Reason for a Perceived High Bill
All of the water meters that the District installs are warrantied for accuracy by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
While the District may be able to assist a customer in determining how much water is being used and at what time of day, it is ultimately the customer’s responsibility to find the source of perceived high water usage on their premises.
The District is not responsible for demonstrating to a customer where or how they are using water on their premises. The District offers a complimentary customer water usage portal that may assist you in monitoring your usage and allows you to set alerts if you go on vacation or if you use more than a specified amount of water in a timeframe you set. The customer usage portal can be found here.
Weather conditions, the location of the meter, the age of the meter, objects placed over meters, and various other factors can hinder the District’s and the customer usage portal’s ability to provide hourly usage data. This does not negate the customer’s responsibility to pay for all water usage that flows through the meter.
Possible reasons for what you may consider to be a high bill include the following:
- Irrigation. This is the most common reason for high water consumption. Regular watering of your lawn or garden uses a substantial amount of water. Abnormally hot and dry weather or additional watering of new or altered landscaping on your property can result in even higher water consumption. Irrigation systems vary widely in water efficiencies. One system can use vastly more water than another system.
- A change in your water use pattern. Frequent visitors, new appliances, filling your home pool, power washing, and other home construction projects can substantially affect your bill.
- More accurate readings due to a new meter. When we replace older meters with newer meters — which we try to do every 10 years — you may have higher water and sewer charges as a result of having more accurate readings.
- A leak on your side of the water meter. Many households have some kind of plumbing leak, which can waste a surprising amount of water. The average leaky toilet can waste about 200 gallons of water per day. That’s over 6,000 gallons of water a month, and may potentially increase your bill by hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Toilets, water heaters, water softeners, in-line humidifiers and irrigation systems are common sources of leaks.
Customer-Side Water Leak Adjustment Criteria
To be eligible for a water leak adjustment, customers must report the leak within 60 days of the bill due date for the billing period when the leak occurred by completing a Water Leak Adjustment Form.
A leak adjustment may be granted when the District finds one is warranted.
All of the following conditions must be present:
- Customer account must be current with no outstanding balance.
- Customer notifies the District of the potential leak within 60 days.
- Leak must be repaired.
- Plumber’s receipt or other proof confirms the leak was repaired.
- After the leak is repaired, customer must submit the online water leak adjustment form. If you are unable to submit online, please download the Water Leak Adjustment Form and submit by email, mail or in person.
- Leak occurred on the customer’s side of the meter.
- However, no adjustments will be granted where any of the following situations exist:
- Usage above the customer’s average monthly consumption is due to seasonal usage such as watering of sod, gardening, filling swimming pools or whirlpools, washing vehicles, etc.
- Leak was caused by a third party from whom the customer is able to recover their costs. Examples include, but are not limited to, theft, vandalism, negligence and construction damage, unoccupied or vacant properties.
- When leak continues for three (3) or more months, there will be no adjustment for the third or subsequent months.
- The meter at said property has been accessed, tampered with, or turned on/off by anyone other than a District employee and that action results in loss of water.
Leak Adjustment Procedures
We will review the Water Leak Adjustment Form and perform the following:
- Billing system review and reading of the account.
- Physical inspection and reading of the meter on site, if necessary.
- Communication of findings to customer.
- Processing of any adjustment, if warranted, per the District’s findings.
- A maximum of two adjustments per customer can be made in a four-year period.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is considered a water leak?
A water leak is defined as an unintentional water loss caused by broken or damaged plumbing fixtures, pipes or irrigation equipment at a customer’s residence or non-residential site that results in a customer’s bill being higher than the customer’s typical bill for water services.
Who is responsible for finding the source of a leak?
While the District will assist a customer for determining how much water is being used and what time of day, it is ultimately the customer’s responsibility to find the source of the leak on their premises. The District is not responsible for demonstrating to a customer where or how they are using water on their premises.
What is needed to submit a water leak adjustment?
First, ensure that the source of the leak has been identified and repaired. Because we want to ensure a customer’s bill is not impacted by the same leak in the future, we are unable to adjust for leaks that have not yet been repaired. Shutting off the source of the leak is not considered a repair for the purposes of this program.
Once the leak has been fixed, complete the Water Leak Adjustment Form attaching any relevant receipts or invoices. The form must be received within 60 days of the due date of the last bill impacted by the leak.
How much will my leak adjustment credit be?
After the completed leak adjustment form has been received and verified, the PSD will adjust the extraordinary usage on your bill to the lowest tier of rates for the dates relevant to the leak, regardless of the amount used. The courtesy leak adjustment adjusts all excess water usage to the lowest tier; it does not reduce your bill to its “normal” amount. It still costs the PSD the same amount to produce and provide water that is consumed in a leak as it does to provide water that is used for normal consumption. The amount of the adjustment will vary based on your individual circumstances but the courtesy adjustment generally amounts to around 30% of the high bill.
How often can I receive a water leak adjustment?
We can complete two adjustments every four years for a premise and leak adjustments will cover no more than two (2) consecutive months.
What if I don’t have a leak but I still think my bill is too high?
The District uses a state-of-the-art water metering system and its water meters are certified devices. Upon request, we will:
- Review the account using our state-of-the-art metering system.
- Perform a physical inspection of the meter, if deemed necessary by the District.
- Confirm accuracy of reading to customer.
While Your Request is Processing…
While a leak adjustment request is being processed, the customer is responsible for payment of the entire amount due on their utility bills within the normal payment period; or the customer should request to enter into an agreed-upon payment arrangement. If this does not occur, the customer is subject to all current and applicable collection activities and termination of service processes for delinquent accounts.