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Winter Averaging and Utility Rates

Winter averaging rates are updated annually and are effective April 1st of each year.  A lot of questions have been posed on why this formula is used and how rates are determined.  The information below is provided to help bring clarification to this practice.

Winter averaging is a practice by which water use during the winter time period is used to determine maximum sewer charges for the upcoming year.  The utility bases bi-monthly charges on the average water consumption during December, January, February and March, depending on your billing cycle.  The Q and A's below are provided to help answer frequently asked questions.

Why does the city use winter use for averaging?

Your sewer bill is based upon your water consumption. Outdoor water use (such as irrigation, car washing and recreational use) does not typically enter the city’s wastewater system and using winter averaging consumption rates therefore, prevents the wastewater portion of your utility from spiking during the summer.

How is winter averaging calculated?

Consumption information is calculated during the two winter billing periods to arrive at the winter average.  For example, if your water use for December/January bill was 20 ccfs (1 ccf =100 cubic feet) and your February/March bill was 10 ccfs your total for the two periods would be 30 ccfs.  The winter use period is two billing cycles so you would divide the use for the two periods or 30 ccfs by two and your winter consumption average would 15 ccfs.  The figure of 15 ccfs would be your maximum sewer charges per two-month billing cycle for the upcoming year.

What if I use less water than my winter average?

If an account uses less water than the winter averaging rate, the sewer charges would reflect charges for the actual water use.  For example if your winter averaging rate was 15 ccfs and your current water consumption was 10 ccfs your sewer charges would reflect 10 ccfs of sewer use.

When is the winter averaging rate effective?

The winter averaging rate is effective April 1st of each year.

What can I do to reduce my sewer charges?

Reducing overall water use during the winter averaging period is essential in cutting your sewer charges for the coming year.  This reduction can be accomplished by fixing all leaks as soon as possible (toilets, faucets, service lines, irrigation systems).

  • Turn off irrigation systems.
  • Consider replacing old toilets with new, water-efficient models.
  • Replace old shower heads and faucet aerators with new, efficient models.
  • Use only the water that is needed when washing hands, dishes or brushing teeth.

Please note:  If you have a water leak during this time period which caused your water consumption to be higher than usual, it is extremely important to notify the billing office at (253) 851-6157 .