Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Do You Know About Wastewater Averaging?

If you don't, you may have a higher water bill next year.  

Most water utility companies, including the City of Austin Water Utilities, determine the amount that you pay for wastewater by averaging three of your "winter" water bills.  My parents taught me this fact a few years ago when I bought my first house, but it's surprising how many people don't know about wastewater averaging.  The premise is that you don't really use water outside during the winter, so all the water you use during that time must be being used inside the house.  And since most of household water is used for washing, flushing toilets, etc, most of it will continue on down to the sewer system, and thus be wastewater. do you find out when your wastewater averaging cycle is?  First, you'll need to have a copy of your water bill handy, so that you can find your "read dates."  Next, go to the wastewater averaging page on the City of Austin water utilities website, click on the calendar icon and then choose your read date and find out your three-month period.

For example, my next read date (from my last water bill) is 11/14/2011, so my wastewater averaging period is from mid-December to mid-March.  

My wastewater averaging period is from December to March.  Yours may be different.

In years past, the utility dropped the highest-use month and averaged the lowest two.  But starting this year, all three months from your cycle will be used to determine your average.  So if you can conserve water during your averaging cycle, you'll reduce your water bill for the entire following year!  But the best part is, if you institute household water conservation measures now, you're more likely to continue those measures all year long.  I sure did.  I started to really pay attention to how I used water.  And one wasteful habit that I discovered was leaving the water running while I soaped my hands up to wash them.  Now, I turn the water off with the back of my hand, soap and scrub, then turn the water back on to rinse.  So far, I haven't noticed anyone else turning off  the water while they wash their hands.  So let's all start a revolution, like someone did back when everyone used to leave the water on while they brushed their teeth.  Small changes like this can make a huge difference on your water bill and also in our environment.

As a special note I'd like to mention that there was an error on this topic reported on at least one of the local news stations last night.  The report was pointing out the new rule that all three months (not just the lowest two) will be used to find your average. The report incorrectly stated that your average is based on the next three months.  Although that might be true for you, your averaging period may not start until December, like me.  So be sure to check the utilities wastewater averaging website to find your exact time period.

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