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  1. 11/9/2015 DISTRICT RECEIVING NUMEROUS CALLS ABOUT HIGH WATER BILLS
  2. The District has been receiving numerous calls from customers reporting that they received higher water bills (sometimes double or triple) than compared to the same time last year.  The calls have been so numerous in the Denver Metro area that it prompted 9News to cover this very topic last week on-air (Denver Water explains abnormally higher than normal water bills).

    In response to this coverage, Denver Water put out a blog article on November 6 titled, Does your water bill seem high? You’re not alone to help explain why District customers are seeing summer-like water bills in the fall.

    The most common concern that District customers have been reporting is that their water bills were significantly higher this September compared to last September. Why?

    According to Denver Water the short answer to this question is:  The weather.

    Your Denver Water water bill includes a chart detailing your water use, month-by-month, for the past year. Look at September 2014; it was an abnormally low water-use month. In fact, September 2014 saw the second-lowest total treated water volume since 1976 for that month. (September 2013, with its historic rain, ranked first.)

    But 2015 was different. Our area had record rainfall in the spring, and customers used a lot less water than normal. In fact, single family residential water use was down 51 percent in June and 36 percent in July from Denver Water’s 2008-2013 baseline averages (see Denver Water’s story, Water, water everywhere).  In August, water use remained slightly below average. Then September and October arrived, and were much warmer than normal - September was even the warmest on record. Because of this, single family residential customer water use rose 6 percent and 23 percent from the average for those months.

    And if you actually compare this September with September 2014, single family residential water use was 44 percent higher.  Higher water use equals a higher water bill.

    But even with these facts, some District customers are not accepting the weather explanation often telling us that they don’t use that much water no matter what the weather conditions are and some customers thought that their water meters were malfunctioning.

    Through a Read and Bill contract with Denver Water, Denver Water is responsible for reading our customer’s meters every month.  If a District customer reports a suspected issue with their water meter, Denver Water will examine the water meter and report the findings to the customer.  After investigating, Denver Water reports that their testing and routine maintenance of these meters showed less than 1 percent failure.  Even if there are issues like a dead battery or faulty wiring, the meter will continue to read consumption, and Denver Water can use that to get the correct reading.

    In September, 160 customers reported higher-than-normal water bills to Denver Water. Here’s what their investigation turned up:

    • Denver Water found a water leak in 65 of these homes. Leaks will drive up your bill. Of those, they found 29 toilet leaks and 26 leaks in the irrigation system.

    • Another 31 customers were simply running their sprinkler systems too long. Denver Water urged them to use this tool to create a zone-by-zone schedule and dial-in their irrigation requirements.

    • Many of the homes had old, inefficient fixtures, and Denver Water helped customers make simple, water-saving upgrades. You’d be surprised what you save by replacing toilet flappers, showerheads and faucet aerators, not to mention Denver Water’s rebate program for upgrading to qualifying WaterSense-labeled toilets.

     

    In many cases, Denver Water discovered multiple factors for higher bills, but all of them were easy fixes to get the customer back on the right track. If you think your bill is too high, you can conduct your own self-audit.

    OK, so when will it get better? Water bills will soon return to normal, but we’re not out of the woods quite yet. This month, you’ll be receiving your water bills reflecting October use. Because October was warm, many customers didn’t winterize their irrigation systems when they typically would, thus extending the watering season. So for many customers, those October bills will also reflect a higher water use than the year before.

    Fortunately, snow has arrived and watering season is over, which will create a more stable bill reflecting only indoor water use.

    It is comforting to know that our customers are looking at their water bills and paying close attention to their water use.  After all, understanding your own water use is a great way to help you realize how efficiently you are using our most precious resource - or what you can do better.

    Interested in learning more about your own water history? Register through Denver Water Online and view up to two years of your water use.