Question 1 – Why is my water bill higher this month than it has been in the past?
Answer 1 – There are many potential reasons that your water bill is higher this month than it has been in the past. Most likely it is because the amount of water passing through the meter (usage) has increased. Suburban charges a unit rate for each Hundred Cubic Feet (CCF) (1 CCF = 748 gallons) that is used. The water meter is the point of sale; the customer is responsible for the cost of water that passes through the meter.
Your usage can increase for several reasons. The following table summarizes potential reasons, and the actions that can be taken to reduce your usage on future bills.
|Potential Reason for Increased Usage
|Action to Reduce Usage
|Increased irrigation usage
(On average outdoor irrigation represents 50% -70% of a customer’s monthly usage.)
|Plumbing fixture leak
(Plumbing fixtures and their components like washers and gaskets, deteriorate over time and can start to leak)
(The houseline is the pipe between Suburban’s meter and the main shutoff valve on your inside plumbing, typically located just outside the house. The houseline belongs to the customer)
Note: Repairing and replacing houselines is costly. Suburban offers “Lifeline”, an inexpensive houseline maintenance program where for a small monthly fee Suburban will repair leaks on your houseline, or even replace it. Lifeline is only available to residential customers that do not have active leaks. If you have a leak on your houseline, have it repaired and sign up for Lifeline before it leaks again. More information is available on Suburban’s website.
|Leaking irrigation sprinkler valve
(These valves automatically open and close to supply water to irrigation zones.)
|Internal plumbing leak
(pipes located inside the house in crawl spaces, walls, and the attic)
|Increased indoor usage
|Filling or topping off a pool
|Incorrect meter read
|Increased bill after Suburban installed a new meter
Question 2 – How do I confirm if I have a leak?
Answer 2 – Suburban’s water meter (typically located near the curb or right of way line in front of your house) may have an electronic register with a digital flowrate indicator, or a mechanical register with small dial that turns if any water is passing through it. Even the smallest amount of usage will make it turn, however, low flows result in very slow movement. If you turn off all water fixtures and faucets in the house and the meter usage indicator is moving, then you likely have a leak.
Question 3 – The meter shows I have a leak; why can’t I see any water?
Answer 3 – Typically, water leaks will make a patch of grass grow longer, make the dirt muddy, create a puddle of water on the ground or floor, or make wet patches on drywall. However, sometimes a leaking fixture like a toilet will drain to the sewer and no water will be visible.
Question 4 – Will a leak stop on its own?
Answer 4 – No, the leak will likely get worse over time. The leak needs to be repaired or the fixture needs to be replaced.
Question 5 – There is a leak downstream of the utility’s meter, who is responsible for the cost of investigating or repairing this leak?
Answer 5 – The customer is responsible for all costs to investigate or repair leaks downstream of Suburban’s meter. This includes but is not limited to the houseline (pipe between meter and house), internal plumbing and fixtures (toilets, faucets, piping, irrigation lines, etc.)
Question 6 – Do I have to pay for water that is wasted due to a leak?
Answer 6 – Yes, you are responsible for paying for all water that passes through the meter. This ensures it is fair to other customers who are keeping their plumbing and fixtures in good repair. Suburban does offer a one-time leak adjustment for a portion of the water used above your typical usage in that month. You need to alert Suburban about the leak once it has been repaired and provide a receipt for repair services (e.g. plumber), or parts purchased to fix the leak.
Question 7 – There is no customer valve located downstream of the meter, or the customer valve downstream of the meter does not work, should my plumber or I try to turn off Suburban’s valve located upstream of the meter?
Answer 7 – No, this valve may be stiff or seized and may be difficult to open without breaking it. If this valve is broken Suburban will need to replace it and that requires an interruption of service to you and potentially your entire block depending on the nature of the damage. If you need this valve shut off, please call Suburban’s customer service line to schedule a visit. Damage to a valve outside of business hours and on weekend results in an emergency response that will inconvenience you and your neighbors.
Question 8 – Why would my irrigation timer/controller settings change?
Answer 8 – A customer may make changes to their irrigation controller settings without realizing how much this increases the water usage. Irrigation controllers are often confusing, and settings may be mistakenly adjusted. Your gardener may have increased frequency and duration of irrigation. Speak to your gardeners about setting your timers for efficient water use and let them know what Suburban’s current mandatory limitations on irrigation are.
Question 9 – Why would the meter read on my bill be higher than the number on the register?
Answer 9 – The employee reading the meter can sometimes inadvertently transpose (switch) numbers which results in a higher number on the bill. If you notice that the meter read on your bill is higher than the number on the meter’s register, please call our customer service team to schedule a field representative to read your meter again. If there is an error, your bill will be updated with the correct number. We apologize if this is the case and appreciate your patience while we correct his error on your billing.
Queston 10 – Could my increased usage be due to the meter being worn out?
Answer 10 – No. Meters consist of mechanical parts that wear out with age and use. As the meter wears it can under register water flowing through it resulting in lower bills. Suburban’s meters are manufactured to strict accuracy standards and their accuracy is verified with tests before they are installed.
Disclaimer: Suggestions of potential problems or solutions regarding customer plumbing provided by Suburban Water Systems and its agents are provided as a courtesy. Suburban is not responsible or liable for costs and service interruptions resulting from customers investigating, repairing, or replacing plumbing located downstream of the water meter.