How to Read Your Utility Bill and Water Meter
The City of Savannah offers some of the most affordable drinking water in the Southeast. The Floridan Aquifer and Savannah River, where we get our drinking water from, are our common resources that we all have a right to access and a responsibility to protect. The fee for water charged by the City of Savannah is for the service of collecting the water, treating it to be clean and safe to drink, and piping it to your home. Similarly, the sewer fee covers piping sewer from your home to the treatment plant where it is cleaned and put safely back into the environment to be used again.
Understanding Your Bill
There are a few important things to know about reading your utility bill:
- While most residents refer to it as their water bill, it is actually a bill for water, sewer, trash, and recycling services that are provided for residents by the City of Savannah; and
- You are billed for these utilities bi-monthly, or once every two months. So if you want to calculate your monthly costs it will be half of your bill.
1.City of Savannah bills on a bimonthly basis. The number of days you are billed for will vary with each bill. At the top of your bill, you can see the time period for which you are being billed as well as the number of days of service within that period. The service period is used to determine your base charges.
2. Water is billed in units. Each unit equals 748 gallons. Under Usage History, this customer’s bill shows a previous meter read of 2011 taken on 2/21, and a current read of 2017 taken on 4/15. This customer would receive use charges for 6 units of water, or about 4,488 gallons (2017-2011 = 6)
3. Your cycle number can be found at the top of your bill. You can view the “Billing Schedule and Rates” document online, to find out when your bills are generated and when they are due, according to your cycle.
4. Your water charge has two parts--the base fee that is adopted by City Council every year, and the usage fee that is based on your own water usage, that flows through the water meter.
5. Sewer service also has a base service charge that is adopted by City Council annually, with an additional fee for every unit of water you use. Just like for your water cost, if you use 15 units or less in the billing cycle, you'll be charged less. Residential and irrigation accounts have a “sewer cap” or maximum amount of usage that can be billed. The sewer cap is 50 units (ccf) or 37,400 gallons.
6. Refuse (trash and recycling) has a base service charge that is adopted by City Council every year.
7. Your usage history shows reads that have been recorded for your meter. It can show you when in the year you are using the most water. This can help you to understand how you can conserve water during times of high use, and save on your bill, too!
Your Water Meter
A team of 12 City of Savannah employees manage water meter reading for over 80,000 accounts. The majority of our meters—over 54,000--are read manually, meaning a meter reader must be physically present at the meter to view the meter dial and input a reading into their handheld device. Each meter reader must register at least 280 readings a day to keep up with our billing schedule. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t seen your meter being read--an experienced meter reader will be on your property for less than a minute to access and read your meter.
Water Meter Obstructions
Maintaining clear and unobstructed access to the water meter is necessary to allow staff to effectively take regular readings and, when necessary, make repairs to the meter. Loose pets in the yard, parked cars, and items such as bushes, trees, pine straw or other plant material that are placed over or around the water meter can hinder staff from performing their duties. Some items can also attract snakes, spiders, rodents, wasps and fire ants that can potentially pose a threat to both customers and City employees. To avoid estimated bills and to help our employees do their job, please keep your water meter safely accessible at all times.
When we are unable to read a meter, normally due to obstructions, an estimated bill will be generated based on prior usage at the location. Estimated bills for meters that are unable to be read will have the following message printed on their bill: “UNABLE TO READ METER, ESTIMATED BASED ON PRIOR USAGE”.
Utility Services is authorized to issue estimated bills when reliable reading information is not available. Receiving an estimated bill is not justification for avoiding payment. Estimated charges are valid bills based upon good historical consumption information. Bills estimated for high usage are subject to adjustment once a reading can be obtained.
How to Read Your Meter
The City of Savannah encourages all utility customers to learn how to read and monitor their water meter. Use this excellent guide to help you read your meter or watch the informative video below: