Posts Tagged ‘Water Bill’July 1, 2014
Your “water bill” from Des Moines Water Works is actually a combined billing statement for water and services provided by the City of Des Moines. Some customers are surprised to learn that Des Moines Water Works is a municipality separate from the City of Des Moines. Des Moines Water Works is governed by a five- member Board of Water Works Trustees, and the City of Des Moines is governed by the City Council. While the Board of Water Works Trustees has oversight for setting policy and rates for water service, the Des Moines City Council has oversight for setting policy and rates for the city services of sanitary sewer, solid waste and storm water, which appear on your Des Moines Water Works bill.
The City of Des Moines (and other local communities served by Des Moines Water Works) contracts with Des Moines Water Works to perform the billing, collecting, and customer service for their municipal services. This collaboration is positive for customers, because it helps reduce redundancies in technologies and staff, and therefore keeps costs lower for customers. It can, however, be confusing. For the average residential customer who opens their water bill, it would be easy to mistakenly think “water” costs around $70.00 per month. In fact, in Des Moines, city services make up about $50.00 or 70% of the “water bill.” The remaining $20.00 per month represents the average customer’s true water charges – a price tag well below other utilities for which customers are paying, including electricity, gas, cable/satellite, cell phone, etc.
The Des Moines Water Works statement you receive each month includes a breakout of all the services for which you are being charged, and each section of the bill reflects whether it is a service provided by Des Moines Water Works or your city. Better understanding your monthly statement can help you better understand Des Moines Water Works’ commitment to delivering tap water that is safe, convenient, and affordable.
Have you ever wondered where your money goes when you pay your water bill?
Your water meter is read each month to determine your water consumption. Meters are typically located in your basement, although most residential and commercial meters are read by remote equipment which does not require Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) staff to enter your home or business. Each month, your meter read is displayed on the bottom of your statement. If your meter is easily accessible, you can read the water meter yourself to verify the reads against your statement.
The readings are displayed like the odometer on your car and read from left to right. Most meters in Des Moines measure in cubic feet, and typically reflect six digits. The first four digits on the meter are shown verbatim on your statement (exception: any leading zeroes are omitted). However, DMWW bills only in hundred cubic feet increments, so the last two digits on your statement will always be “00,” regardless of what is shown on your meter.
DMWW’s automated radio frequency meter reading equipment in most of our service areas allows DMWW to receive two meter reads each day, and these reads are available to you via your online account at www.dmww.com. If your consumption is higher than expected, you can monitor your daily reads at any time by querying your meter reading data on our website. If, after monitoring your daily consumption, you believe you may have a leak, don’t hesitate to call us at (515) 283-8700 and visit with a customer service representative about what may be causing the high consumption.
Most of us go to the faucet for a glass of water and don’t think a thing about it, like how it got there or what it cost for the glass of water. The only time we really give it much thought at all is when we receive our monthly “water bill.”
If I asked you how much you pay for water each month, what would you tell me? About $65? Did you know the average customer in Des Moines pays only $16 or $17 a month for all the water they use inside their home? Water service is perhaps the greatest bargain in my home month after month. I cook with it. I drink it. I bathe my kids in it. I toil through loads (and loads!) of laundry with it. It doesn’t run out, and I don’t have to run to the store to get it. It makes my life simple, all month long, for only $16.
It’s easy for us to forget water is such a great bargain, because our “water bill” runs higher than that every month. That’s because the Des Moines Water Works statement you receive has other services on it besides water–other services that also make your life convenient and easier. Here’s a run-down of your bill (see example bill statement below):
Water charges (A) – The cost of water is typically half the total on your monthly “water bill.” Water charges are determined based on the amount of water you use and the water rate per thousand gallons as established by the DMWW Board of Trustees. In addition to this volume charge, each customer pays a flat availability fee each month of $5.00. This covers fixed costs, such as the cost of the meter inside your home, the statement you receive each month, the pipes and mains that bring the water to your home, etc. You can find the amount of water consumption at the bottom of your statement each month (B). Because of the types of meters DMWW uses, water consumption is shown in cubic feet. If you want to know how many gallons you use a month, multiply your consumption in cubic feet by 7.4805. For example, a typical 2-person household uses 500 cubic feet, or 3,740 gallons each month.
City charges – The City of Des Moines contracts with Des Moines Water Works to bill for City charges, including sewer, stormwater, and solid waste.
- Like water charges, sewer charges (C) are based on the amount of water you use each month (the water you use in your home eventually goes through the sanitary sewer system as it leaves your home), but the rates are set by the City of Des Moines. There is also a flat customer service charge for fixed costs associated with the sanitary sewer system.
- Solid Waste charges (D) reflect the cost of curbside garbage removal inside the City of Des Moines.
- Stormwater charges (E) are paid by all City residents to provide funding for the maintenance of existing stormwater facilities and for the construction of new facilities to accommodate stormwater run-off.
City ordinance requires that property owners pay non-metered charges (sewer customer service charge, stormwater, and solid waste) when the service is available, regardless if a property is inhabited or the service is used.
Understanding your water bill is key to understanding and appreciating the value of water service delivered right to your faucet. As for me? I wouldn’t want to live without it…even if it meant getting out of doing laundry.