Water bills may fluctuate each winter because KC Water adjusts the wastewater charge calculation to account for different seasonal usage. Here are some common questions and answers:
My Wastewater Volume Charge went up this month. What happened?
There could be multiple factors including higher water use during the holiday season. Another reason could be that the Wastewater Volume Charge on January-April bills is based on the actual amount of water used in the period billed. On May – December bills, the Wastewater Volume Charge is based on the monthly average of water used the previous winter (January – April).
Why the difference?
We compute the Wastewater Volume Charge two different ways to account for customers’ water use during the spring, summer and fall. We recognize that not all water used during those months returns to the sewer system requiring treatment. Some of it goes for watering lawns and other outdoor activities.
What’s the rationale for the seasonal adjustment?
We don’t measure wastewater as it exits your home. However, most of the clean tap water you use goes down drains and toilets when you’re done with it, so we base the wastewater treatment charge on the volume of clean water you use as measured by your water meter. KC Water, like many utilities in the US, realizes that during the spring and summer months, some of the water you use is for outdoor activities like watering the lawn and gardening, and does not enter the sewer system requiring treatment. So we average your water use during the winter months, when water usage is typically low and use that as the volume charge for wastewater on the May through December bills.
How is this seasonal adjustment computed?
On January-April bills, your Wastewater Volume Charge is based on your actual water usage in each month covered in those bills.
For the rest of the year, we take the average of the water volume of those four bills and set it to determine your benchmark Wastewater Volume Charge. On May-December bills, your Wastewater Volume Charge each month will be the lesser of two amounts: either the benchmark winter average; or your actual water usage in a given month.
But the January bill still seems high.
The January bill might reflect the highest usage in the winter period since it covers water used during the holidays, when more dishes and laundry are done.
What’s this other wastewater charge on my bill, the Wastewater Service Charge?
The Wastewater Service Charge ($22.58 per month) is a set charge that covers in part the cost of providing various wastewater services. It applies whether or not wastewater is actually discharged to the city sewer during the billing period.
Who sets these charges?
The City Council passes ordinances that set KC Water’s rates. KC Water recommends rates to the Council based on a standard rate-setting protocol followed by most of the nation’s nearly 50,000 water utilities. The protocol, in turn, is based on the cost to build, maintain, and operate the water and wastewater utilities.