February 21, 2011

Understanding Your Water Bill

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.

Posted by: Amy Kahler 1 Comment
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One Response to “Understanding Your Water Bill”

  1. January 11, 2014 at 10:28 am, James Sutton said:

    How are stormwater fees appealed?

    Reply

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