Reading the Meters
Who reads the water meters in the City? Our public works crew.
How often are they read? Every two months, the beginning of the even months. You can find the schedule here.
How does the meter data get to the billing clerks? The information is uploaded from the interrogators to the billing software. It automatically plugs in the reading the public works crew read. During this time, we also look for the higher than normal usage. The software flags any readings that are higher than 125% of the two billing cycles. We send work orders to check for leaks or misreads on the meter if they are flagged.
Leaks and Usage
My water bill was really high because I had a leak, which I fixed. Is there any way I can get an adjustment?
Adjustments are possible for single family residences. If the City suspects a water leak, customers are notified via a “Leak Notification Letter” and Application for an Adjustment, which needs to be sent back to City Hall. If the leak is fixed within 10 days of said letter, and if there have been no other leaks during the past twelve months, and adjustment will be made based on the average of the previous year or three preceding billing periods, whichever is greater. All amounts in excess of the average shall be charged at half the current rate for water and sewer per 100 cubic feet of water expended. The overage charges cannot exceed $250.00 for water and $250.00 for sewer. If the City did not notify you and you found the leak on your own, promptly contact the Utility Billing Department and requesting an Application for an Adjustment. City staff will review for a possible adjustment on your account.
I was looking at my water bill and saw that the sewer portion was higher than the water portion. Is this a mistake?
No mistake, but here’s the reason: Your home is serviced by two City systems: the water system and the sewer system. Since the sewer system is actually more expensive to maintain than the water system, the sewer portion of the City utility bill will always be higher.
However, in the summertime, when people tend to do more outdoor watering, gardening, fill hot tubs, etc., the City changes its formula in figuring your bill. For example, if, during the rest of the year you keep your average to 1500 cubic feet of usage, then during the “summer sewer rate” period you use 2200 cubic feet, the City will charge you for 2200 cubic feet of water, but figure your sewer portion at 1500 cubic feet. So it really does pay to conserve!
My bill is measured per 100 cubic feet. What is a cubic foot?
One cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons, so for every 100 cubic feet of consumption, you will have used 748 gallons of water. To give you an idea of how the translates: If you were to run your water hose at high pressure for 70 minutes, you will have used about 100 cubic feet (748 gallons) of water.
The family next door has an almost identical house, yet their bill is lower than ours. How come?
Water usage varies from family to family, so comparing your bill with a neighbor’s is like comparing apples and oranges. Usage will depend on shower frequency, laundry loads per week, whether you have small children or teenagers, and many other factors. On average, a family of four will use 1600 to 2000 cubic feet of water in a two-month billing period.
Billing and Utility Rates
Why didn’t we, as citizens, get to vote on this rate increase?
The City Council is given authority to set utility rates in State law. Council members must consider carefully all of the consequences of the cost to citizens to use the water and sewer systems as well as the City’s need to respond to the growth needs in the community. Most importantly, the City must meet debt service requirements on the bonds used to improve the treatment plant, or run the risk of defaulting which would allow bond-holders to actually set the rates. This could result in rates much higher than those set by the Council. Additionally, there are regulatory issues in the form of permits or requirements from the State or Federal governments. While raising utility rates is not the popular thing to do, the City Council only does so after a thorough examination of the needs and alternatives.
I have most of my bills paid by automatic payment. Does Ferndale have this option available yet?
The City offers an automatic payment plan for anyone interested in saving time and money. Using the plan is simple. Just contact City Hall and ask for the Authorization Form, fill it out and return with the requested documents. Call City Hall for more information at (360) 384-4269.
Still have questions?
Please call the Utility Billing Department at (360) 384-4269 or send us an email.