Summer months water bills have started hitting mailboxes, and we have heard that some of our residents are seeing bills that are higher than they expected. We wanted to share a couple of reminders with everyone, that specifically pertain to your bill this time of year.
- While bimonthly water bills do contain a fixed service charge, your total bill is driven primarily by your water usage as measured by the meter. Your bill shows your current usage in “Units” of 1,000 gallons compared with prior periods.
- It’s summertime, and the most recent water bills reflect your peak water usage which can be at least 2 or 3 times greater than your winter use. Additionally, water rates are tiered, so higher summer usage costs more. Tiered rates help cover the cost of running multiple treatment plants to meet summer demands on the water system.
- Your summer usage could be a bit higher than past years for a couple of reasons. Many of us are spending more time at home and using more water than usual (more handwashing, toilet flushing, etc). This year’s extreme hot spells have led many customers to increase their normal irrigation.
- Remember that your water bills include charges for two months of usage, while most other bills arrive monthly for one month of service.
- Water meters are very accurate and under-read as they age. To generate a bill, we read all meters, either electronically or in-person, and we never estimate or average.
- Think you may have a leak? Irrigation leaks may occur when the system is running very early in the morning or can be hidden underground and you never see it. Toilet leaks use a lot of water and are easy to miss. Call us and we will send someone to help you out.
- If your meter reading is significantly higher than normal for that period, we will leave you a note so you can check for leaks. Take the 10-Minute WaterSense Challenge to chase down household leaks.
- Napa’s water rates have not changed since last October’s annual adjustment. Our rates are among the lowest in the region. They are fully detailed at: https://www.cityofnapa.org/605/Water-Rates
How are meters read?
Water meters are extremely accurate and cannot overread. In fact, as it ages a meter will actually under-read usage to the benefit of the customer. After each meter read cycle, the City alerts customers with exceptionally high usage compared to previous years, often leading to their discovery and repair of a leak. For truly hidden underground leaks, the City even has a cost-sharing program to help mitigate the exceptional bill. Customers are encouraged to call 707-257-9508 if they have questions about any bill. We will send a service worker out to investigate any abnormal situations. In the rare cases of electronic transmission error, the City uses the actual meter register to make appropriate corrections to customer billing.
Why does my bill seem much higher?
This year, with many residents spending more time at home, it’s very possible that your water bill could be higher than normal. More handwashing, toilet flushing, dishwasher running and higher general water use could lead to a spike in your water bill.
It is also important to keep in mind that water bill amounts are seasonal, if you have any irrigated lawn or landscaping at all. The water bills you receive in August and October cover the peak summer watering season and they will naturally include higher usage than the winter/spring bills immediately prior, which were likely indoor use only.
It is our experience that irrigation system issues and watering schedules are the most common causes of customer surprise at water bill amounts. We encourage all customers to be aware of their irrigation system operations, even if managed by a landscape contractor. Appropriate seasonal scheduling and maintenance can save you water and money. Now is the time to turn down those automatic sprinkler and drip systems as we head to fall, with its shorter days and cooler nights. Check out the Napa Valley Watering Guide, including sample irrigation schedules at http://napa.watersavingplants.com/Watering-Guide/.
To pursue conservation measures indoors and out, take a look at our program offerings at www.cityofnapa.org/water. If you are interested in a Water-Wise Home Survey, please contact our Water Conservation Specialist at 707-257-9497. Every drop you save will help reduce your bill.
After considering the above, if you still feel that you may have an issue with your water bill, please contact our Water Division at 707-257-9521. We are always happy to explore concerns and verify meter reads.