Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do I have to pay Water and Sewer charges when I paid for the installation years ago?
- Why are my Sanitary Sewer Charges higher than my Water Charges?
- Why should I pay for a Sewer Usage Charge for water I used to water my lawn or fill my pool?
- Why should I have to read the meter when I am already paying you a service charge?
- What is the Change of Occupancy / New Account charge?
- Why is my bill so high?
The initial charges you paid years ago to have the service installed are called Frontage Charges. They covered your share of the initial construction costs to run the water and sanitary sewer systems across the front of your property.
The Usage Charges cover the cost of operating the water or sanitary sewer system (including treatment) and are based on your usage.
The Service Charges are a flat rate that recover the fixed costs of providing you with the service.
Both your "Usage" and "Service" charges help pay for the on-going costs of providing you with water and sewer services.
It is more costly to treat sewage than to treat water. Durham Region is committed to ensuring that all waste water returning to the environment meets or exceeds the legislated level of purity.
The most accurate way to measure sanitary sewer use would be a sanitary sewage meter. Unfortunately, there is no practical, accurate, cost-effective, small sewage meter. An alternative and accurate method is to apply a sanitary sewer surcharge on the individual customers water usage.
We understand that many customers will water their lawn, fill a pool or wash the car over the summer months. Many customers initially feel that we should reduce sewer costs to account for this type of usage. However, the volume of waste in the sanitary sewer system is actually higher than the amount of water supplied to our customers. That is, we are getting more water back to our water pollution control plants than we are actually pumping out of our water plants.
This is primarily due to infiltration (where water seeps into the sanitary sewer through cracks in the underground pipes, joints, manhole covers etc). Although infiltration is not desirable, it is unavoidable. Since infiltration occurs underground, it is not possible to attribute and charge specific customers for it.
The effects of infiltration tend to cancel any savings created by customers' non-sanitary sewer use. As a result, the Region bills the sanitary sewer use on a 1 to 1 basis with water use.
There is a net savings to all our customers when you provide us with your reading. The present service charge reflects the expectation that the self-assessment card program will continue to be a success. If our customers do not read the meters, then we will have to return to the previous, more expensive system of sending out our meter readers for each billing. The water and sanitary sewer service charges would increase accordingly to cover the extra cost of billing and administration.
This charge is assessed to help recover the administrative costs associated with setting up your account, such as meter readings and the gathering, processing and inputting of account information.
The four most common reasons for a high bill are:
- Catch up Bill
Previous bills have been based on estimated usage. The current bill is based on an actual meter reading and may reflect adjustments to bring your usage and billing up to date.
- Plumbing Problems
If previous bills were based on actual meter readings, then there is a possibility that you have plumbing problems.
- Seasonal Usage
Normally, usage is higher during the summer months due to lawn watering, car washing, and swimming pool maintenance.
- User Habits
Each individual customer has a unique usage pattern. Your usage could be above the norm.
The best way to avoid high billings is to always supply us with your water meter readings. That way, we can see if your consumption is increasing, and be able to advise you of a possible plumbing problem.