What Is Sewer Charge: How Much Should You Be Paying?

By |Published On: November 8th, 2021|Categories: Residential Plumbing, Sewer Systems|

What is the “sewer charge” that’s listed on your bill? Why is it so much money? How much should you be paying for your sewer usage? If you are asking yourself these very questions, you’re in the right place! By the end of this article, you will know exactly what to do when your next bill comes in.

What Is Sewer Charge?

If you are connected to your city sewer service, you will have to pay a monthly sewer charge to use their pipes and treatment plants. If you are using a septic system, you’re getting rid of wastewater yourself, so you don’t need to worry about a sewer charge.

Sewer Charge

What Does My Sewer Charge Pay For?

Your sewer charge can pay for three things, depending on where you live.

Collecting and treating wastewater – Your waste travels from your toilet to your city’s main sewer line. From here, your city takes the waste and converts it back into clean water. After it’s cleaned, it’s returned back to local streams, rivers, or canals.

Operating costs – It cost money to run a sewage and water plant. Your bill helps pay for personnel, equipment, fuel, vehicles, and anything else that involves running a proper waste plant.

Special projects – Special projects include reducing sewer overflows*, addressing urgent backups, keeping pipes in good condition, customer service, and solutions for environmental challenges.

*Sewer overflow is when untreated wastewater is dumped into local rivers, streams, or lakes. Some cities have increased their sewer bills to help find alternative solutions to these outdated methods. The United States passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of U.S. waters.

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How Much Should I Be Paying On My Sewer Charge?

The average sewer charge as of 2021 can range from $14 to $135 per month. Different cities calculate their sewer bills differently. The best way to find out is to search your county/city and the local utility department website. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, California, you can use lacitysan.org.

Why Is My Sewer Charge Higher Than My Water Charge?

The main reason your sewer charge is higher than your water charge lies in the difference between clean water distribution and wastewater collection.

Gravity – Drinking water flows through pressurized pipelines, moving uphill and downhill when needed. Water lines do not need gravity to flow to your home.

Wastewater needs gravity to leave your home. Most sewer lines are built to grade with a certain slope. When it comes to building these pipelines, the cost of construction rises as the work gets harder. If a slope is too steep, pump stations are required to lift the wastewater so it can flow by gravity again.

Customer base -Water utility services have a larger customer base to support their operating costs, lowering individual customer costs.

Treatment – We talked about how wastewater is treated and released back into local water sources. The systems that clean and release the wastewater are expensive to build and operate, raising your sewer charge.

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How Is My Sewer Charge Calculated?

Your water and sewer bills are usually next to each other. Your sewer charge is split into two categories; fixed charges and consumption charges.

Sewer fixed charge – – The fixed charge covers set costs related to having the system in place and maintained to provide reliable service, including costs to administer accounts. Therefore, a fixed charge is required from all customers whether or not any wastewater flows into the sewer system.

Sewer consumption charge – Consumption is based on how much sewage is leaving your home. The average residential sewer usage is capped at 36,000 gallons. Money collected through this charge pays for transporting and treating the sanitary sewer flow. The money also goes to the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the main sewer system.

How Do I Lower My Sewer Charge?

Below are a few things you can do today to lower your sewer charge.

For the bathroom

  • Fix leaking toilets. Click here for more information on leaking toilets. 

  • Use a fill cycle diverter (a plastic device that directs more water to the tank and less to the bowl while they refill so that they finish filling at roughly the same time.)

  • Replace your toilet flapper once a year or buy an adjustable flapper.

  • Install a low-flow showerhead.

  • Don’t take long showers or heavy baths.

Sewer Charge

For the kitchen

  • Fix leaks in your faucet and sink.
  • Install a low-flow faucet or a motion sensor faucet.
  • Use a bowl of water instead of rinsing produce under the faucet and use small bowls for boiling.
  • Use your dishwasher instead of handwashing.
  • Store drinking water in the fridge to avoid running the faucet until the water is cold enough.
  • Defrost food in the microwave instead of running it under the faucet.
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For the yard

  • Install a separate water meter for your irrigation system.
  • Water your lawn early in the morning or late at night.
  • Make sure your sprinkler heads are properly placed and maintained.
  • Turn off the sprinkler system when rain is in the forecast.
  • Don’t mow your lawn too short.
  • Buy a nozzle for your hose.
  • Put a cover on your pool to reduce evaporation.
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For your laundry room

  • Upgrade to an energy-efficient washing machine. On average, regular washing machines use 19 gallons of water per load, while Energy Star certified machines use 14 gallons of water per load.
  • Run the washer with full loads only.
  • Skip the extra rinse.
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What Next?

If you’ve taken every action to lower your sewer charge, but something is still raising your bill, what do you do next? The problem could be a leaking sewer pipe. How do you fix a leaking sewer pipe? That’s where New Flow Plumbing comes in. We’ll get you started with a CCTV sewer camera inspection to determine where the issue is. Then, we give you a free repair estimate, followed by available repair options. Whatever the issue, New Flow Plumbing will have your home back in business. Click here for more information on replacing the sewer line under your home. 

About the Author: New Flow Plumbing Inc.

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