Water Meters and Water Bills
On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, Public Utilities Director David Jurgens addressed frequently asked questions from the community about water meters and water bills. View the presentation and watch the work session below.
The finances of Public Utilities are accounted for in an Enterprise Fund meaning that users pay a fee in exchange for a service. Bills go out every other month and each bill is for the combined services of Chesapeake Public Utilities and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD). The Chesapeake Public Utilities fees cover the fresh drinking water that comes out of your faucet and the portion of the sewer system from the edge of your property to the nearest pump station. The HRSD fees cover the sewer system from the pump station to the treatment center. The bills come to you from the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRUBS), the system used to combine and send bills.
Water meters in Chesapeake are read by hand roughly every 60 days. The Public Utilities Department is working towards Automated Metering Infrastructure. This would allow for a more frequent reading and billing cycle, thus allowing for faster notification of abnormal usage.
If a water meter read is abnormally high, the system will kick it out and a reread will automatically be done before the bill is processed. If a customer receives a bill that is abnormally high, they can also request a reread.
If a meter reread determines the number was correct the first time, the customer can also request a meter test to make sure the meter is properly functioning (the test costs $25). It should be noted, however, that when meters fail, they almost exclusively fail to the benefit of the customer by reading lower consumption than is actually being used. Upon replacement of the meter, many customers see higher water consumption, which is due to the fact that their new meter is actually working and taking an accurate reading.
Bill Adjustments & Payment Plans
Customers can apply for bill adjustments when their water consumption is unusually high. There are a variety of stipulations and timelines that must be followed so please read the website carefully or contact Public Utilities Customer Service. The process of requesting an adjustment can take time so it’s important to continue to pay whatever your average bill is by its due date, to not become delinquent. Unidentified water loss adjustments are only allowed once every 10 years and repaired leak adjustments once every three years. This is so the cost of the adjustments does not have an unfair impact on rates for other water customers. It is each property owner’s responsibility to ensure that pipes, plumbing, and water using fixtures on their side of the meter box are properly maintained.
Possible Reasons for High Water Bills
- Toilets, faucets, or fixtures
- Appliances (washing machine, dishwasher, refrigerator with ice machine)
- Irrigation system
- Service line on the customer’s side of the meter
- Faulty water softener systems
- Seasonal uses (filling pools, watering plants, washing cars, kids home from school, etc.)
- New water-consuming equipment installed (new appliances, upsized water heater)