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Very likely! Landscape watering typically accounts for the majority of household water use during summer months. Higher water use increases water bills - and increases the demand on our water supply.
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The Texas Water Development Board estimates average monthly usage for Texas water utilities ranges from 7,380 to 8,514 gallons. The City of Melissa’s average residential consumption is approximately 7,400 gallons per month. Additionally, the City’s rate study showed that on average, nearly 50% of residential customers were billed at the Tier 1 rate for their monthly water consumption charge. This along with the statewide data further suggests that volumes in the higher tiers appear to be a choice.
Concerned about the recent increase in your water usage? There are many possible causes for high water consumption. Here are some tips that may help and first questions to ask:
If any of these apply to you, these are often common causes for increase water consumption and would likely have a temporary impact on your water bill.
It may be higher and there are a number of factors to look at when you see an increase in the amount of your bill:
This is likely due to the new rate structure that went into effect in October 2017. Although the City reduced the standard minimum charge for water from $31.53 to $24 (based on standard 3/4 inches water meter), to do this and maintain the integrity of the water fund, the City also adjusted the volumetric tiers for water consumption - applying the wholesale increases from NTMWD primarily to the higher volumetric tiers to further incentivize conservation. Therefore the City acknowledges that higher users (above average) will likely pay more in volumetric charges under this new rate structure.
The table illustrates the changes in the tiers under the new rate structure. Note that those that use over 15,000 gallons now enter Tier 3 whereas previously Tier 3 kicked in at over 20,000 gallons.
Although the minimum fee for water was reduced by $7.53 for all users, those that are above average consumers of water will enter the higher tiers (3 and 4) and therefore the total cost of water would end up higher for the same amount of water consumption due to the new rate tiers.
The City has invested in tools to empower our customers to take control of their water usage. Customers who chose to conserve can maximize potential savings by signing up for WaterMyYard and following the weekly watering notifications which are based on truly local weather data. When you couple this information with the data that is available through the AMI system and the U2You portal, our customers can take control of the greatest impact on their water usage, outdoor watering, thus helping to avoid surprises in their bill.
If you are concerned with the accuracy of your water meter reading:
After looking over the consumption data, if you are still concerned, you can conduct your own meter accuracy test using a simple industry accepted way to test its accuracy - the 10 gallon bucket test. To complete this test do the following:
The City of Houston has a video that explains how to verify the accuracy of your water meter and they cover how to do this test. If you are not comfortable completing the test above and are still concerned, you can schedule Public Works to come out and look at your meter and the associated equipment at any time. Utility Billing staff will be glad to assist with this request.