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05

A vital resource at a minimal cost

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A vital resource at a minimal cost

Early in the pandemic, health officials quickly assured us that tap water was safe for normal use. If you think back to those early days of the pandemic when so much was unknown, wasn't it a relief to know you could use your water for cooking, cleaning and drinking? Your water was there when you needed it then and continues to be.

That reliability comes at a minimal cost, however.

Nearly all water systems establish a flat fee for residential customers, which is created to cover the utility's base costs for collecting, treating and transporting water throughout the distribution system. This includes paying for the electricity required to move water through underground infrastructure as well as the salaries of the utility staff doing the hard work.

Some utilities charge customers a rate per gallon used during a billing period, a facility charge to account for wastewater processes, a regulatory fee to cover costs associated with the utility staying in compliance with clean water statutes and a fee which utilities assign to pay for future capital projects, including new pipes, treatment facilities or reservoirs.

Utilities sometimes use a tiered rate structure for water use. In this situation, utilities charge more per gallon as a consumer's water use increases during a billing period. This is used to encourage conservation. The additional sewer, compliance and future capital projects fees may also be added to the fee incurred by using water.

Other factors contribute to rate structures, including geography (some places are more expensive for utilities to access than others) and the size of the tap from the water main.

We encourage you to communicate with your water provider about its rate structure and rebate or conservation programs that may be helpful.

Check out the Water Bills page on DrinkTap for more information.

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