How much does landscape watering impact your bill? For some customers following the conservation watering restrictions of no more that Twice per week, can still result in an increase of more than 10,000 to 15,000 gallons on their monthly water bill for irrigation alone!
Sound crazy? You may be surprised...An automatic sprinkler system provides a convenience, but people have a responsibility to operate their systems efficiently and effectively. According to the EPA, if you set your sprinkler system to run automatically and it is not programmed properly, you could use up to 35 percent more water than your neighbors without a sprinkler system.
There are a number of good irrigation use calculators available, such as the City of McKinney Irrigation Calculator where you can easily see this illustrated.
- This calculator will be dependent on the number of zones in your system, how long you water each zone and how often and with that information it will give you an estimate of monthly water usage due to irrigation alone.
Take Control with the Power of Data
To maintain maximum control of your water use, we recommend you operate your sprinkler system manually and take advantage of the WaterMyYard program and only water when local weather data tells you that you need to.
However, if you decide to run your sprinkler system on the automatic setting, take the time to check out some helpful tips to control your sprinkler to ensure you don’t put an unnecessary strain on our water supply, or your wallet.
Don't forget that thanks to the City's use of an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and the fully functional U2You Customer Portal, customers can get direct access to view your water usage in monthly, daily and hourly increments. Want to avoid entering that second or third billing tier? Setup customized usage alerts to receive notification by email and/or text message based on your defined usage thresholds - allowing more direct control over your own water usage and subsequent bill. Participants are also able to see how their household’s usage compares to other residents that have also signed up. So take control of your water usage today! Learn more .
Below are some FAQ's you can refer to that may help explain the increases. If after going through this checklist you still feel there is no reasonable explanation for your increased usage, feel free to contact Utility Billing during normal business hours at (972) 838-2035 for further assistance.
What is considered average water usage?
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 aproximately 7,400 gallons/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.
Where could the increase in my water usage be coming from?
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:
First Questions to Ask:
- Do you have new landscaping, grass or plants?
- Did you have an extra house guest during this billing cycle?
- Have you increased the frequency or duration in which you water your yard? If you water manually, take care not to over-water.
- If you have a swimming pool, did you fill or drain it during this billing cycle?
- Do you have a water softener? - A faulty timer or stuck solenoid may waste hundreds of gallons of water per day.
Could the increase be due to irrigation and/or outdoor watering?
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.
- Verify the settings on your irrigation controllers and/or timers. Make sure your system is set to water when and how much you want and that you are not watering more than twice a week as stated in the current water guidelines.
- Be sure your sprinkler system controller has a fresh battery so that it can maintain the watering schedule in the event of a power outage. Without this backup energy supply, the controller goes back to the default settings — often watering every day.
- Conduct a full irrigation system audit – An audit of the irrigation system has been shown to be the most effective tool for maximizing water use efficiency in the landscape. Irrigation audits consist of three main activities: Site inspection, performance testing, and irrigation scheduling.
My bill seems higher than usual?
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:
- Evaluate past water bills and consumption - Compare your water utility bill with past bills, from the same month, to see if the consumption is larger than usual. Keep in mind to check the consumption, not the dollar amount of the bill, as water rates have increased from year to year.
- Monitor your usage online in the U2You Customer Portal and/or by checking your water meter - We encourage customers to read their own meter and keep track of the reads at different times to see how much they are using following activities such as irrigating, laundry, or just to see daily use to help give a better idea of how much water households are really using.
- You can share these reads with utility billing and public works staff so we can help gain a better understanding of your usage patterns and reasons for the increase.
My consumption did not change greatly but the billed amount did?
This is likely due to the new rate structure that went into effect October 2017. Although the City reduced the standard minimum charge for water from $31.53 to $24.00 (based on standard 3/4” water meter), to do this and maintain the integrity of the water fund, the City also adjusted the volumetric tiers for water consumption - applying the wholesale increases from NTMWD primarily to the higher volumetric tiers to further incentivize conservation. Therefore the City acknowledges that higher users (above average) will likely pay more in volumetric charges under this new rate structure.
New rate structure's impact on above average consumption
The table below illustrates the changes in the tiers under the new rate structure. Note that those that use over 15,000 gallons now enter Tier 3 whereas previously Tier 3 kicked in at over 20,000 gallons.
|Usage Tier||2017||2018||Volumetric Rate 2018|
|Tier 1||1 - 10,000||1 - 10,000||$ 5.70 /1,000 gallons|
|Tier 2||10,001 - 20,000||10,001 - 15,000||$ 8.99 /1,000 gallons|
|Tier 3||20,001 - 60,000||15,001 - 50,000||$ 11.23 /1,000 gallons|
|Tier 4||60,001 - 100,000||50,000 +||$ 11.84 /1,000 gallons|
|Tier 5||100,000 +||n/a|
|Min. Fee||$ 31.53||$ 24.00|
EXAMPLE: 16,000 gallons
2017 (Tiers 1 - 2): Min. Fee $31.53 + Consumption Charge of $98.12 = $129.65
2018 (Tiers 1 - 3): Min. Fee $24.00 + Consumption Charge of $113.53 = $137.53
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 & 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.
Want to avoid the higher tiers? Don't get caught off guard!
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.
I am concerned my meter reading is not accurate?
If you are concerned with the accuracy of your water meter reading:
- You should review your water usage data in the Customer UtoYou Portal to see if there are any immediate irregularities.
- You may also contact Utility Billing for assistance in looking at the AMI data or if you are not signed up for access to your data.
- Utility Billing can also request the Public Works get a physical re-read of your meter to confirm that the reading is inline with what the AMI reads suggest.
To complete this test do the following:
- First, make sure all of your water is turned off.
- Next, write down your meter register reading and the number of gallons indicated by the sweep hand. This hand measures from 1 to 10 gallons.
- Now, fill ten gallons of water into a measurable bucket – many will use two 5-gallon buckets to make it easier.
- Finally, return to your meter…your sweep hand should have advanced proportionately to the number of gallons that you measured into the bucket. Note: the sweep hand should have advanced between 9.8 and 10.2 gallons for a ten gallon test…the American Water Works Association (AWWA) accuracy standard is any test between 98% to 102%
- Note what the new read is on the meter and how many gallons were shown to have been used by the sweep hand. Anything less than ten gallons, the difference is favoring you.
- However in the unlikely event the sweep hand is ½ gallon or more than the ten gallons on the dial, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (972) 838-2035 and we will schedule an official test with public works.
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 anytime. Utility Billing staff will be glad to assist with this request.