Sewer Bill Decreases When Meter is Replaced?


I’m looking at a park with master metered water and sewer. Water and sewer are billed separately to the property owner. The water bill has been fairly consistent over the past 3 years years at approx $5,500 per year (40 space park).

The sewer bill, however, has decreased significantly in the last two years. Approximate sewer bills are as follows:
2013: $17,000
2014, $15,000
2015: $18,000
2016: $6,000
2017: $7,000

The owner’s explanation for the decrease is that the city replaced the meter and his sewer bill has been significantly lower since they did. Does this explanation make sense? Any suggestions for steps I could take to get more comfort around the sewer bill? Thanks in advance for your help.


Do they meter the sewer or just the drinking water use?


I believe the sewer is metered, but I haven’t had a plumber out to inspect the system yet. Right now I am just working with what the seller is telling me. The sewer bill is included on the property tax bill. There is a line item on the property tax bill for each year called “Sewer Usage.” The owner stated that the sewer meter was replaced and after it was replaced the sewer bill dropped significantly. There is no detail regarding the amount of sewer usage (other than the $ amount) on the property tax bill.


I just talked to the county and actually it sounds like they just meter the drinking water and then use that reading to calculate the sewer bill. So I guess what the owner was saying is that the water meter was reading high, the city replaced it, and now both the water and sewer bills are significantly lower than they were several years ago. Does this sound plausible? Thanks!


Yes very possible. However meters usually read low not high. I would want to see monthly meter reading from last 3 to 4 years during due diligence. My guess there was a leak somewhere in addition to meter possibly not reading accurately. If water usage has been stable for last year or two I would not worry about it.


Thanks so much, Phillip. I dug into the water bill a little more. It looks like it is stable going back to 2013, with one very high reading. However, the owner was not charged for the high reading. I spoke to the water dept and they had a record of a work order for a crew to go out at about the same time as the high reading. It sounds like there was a leak at the water meter service lid and the meter was replaced at this time or shortly thereafter.


So whats the answer on this one? My thought process was Phillips but then what is the explanation on the lower bill?

Did they change the rate at which they bill out sewer?




As previously noted in the thread, In almost all water/sewer situations, only the potable water is meter and you pay for sewer based on the metered water usage.

In some cases sewer usage and base fees are charged by the size of the sewer line (typically when the water is not metered). So if the sewer lines were replaced this could be the reason for the decrease.

If a major water leak was repaired, often the municipal utility will credit or lower the sewer portion of the bill due to the water/sewer did enter the sewer facility (instead leaked into the ground).

Finally sewer charges may have been based on an (historically high) average annual water use applied to current sewer charges. This is often the case when water is charged from one provider and sewer is charged by another provider. A credit (for over estimated sewer usage) on the sewer charges may have been applied over several sewer bills.

Regardless, appears your water sewer charges have been stable for a couple of years. If you are using @ 1500 to 3000 gallons per occupied home, than your within normal range.

Please note:
Older meters do not capture (charge 100%) of water usage. A new meter will increase the water usage charges.
Sewer rates through out the US continue to increase at more rapid pace than water charges. In most urban areas, sewer cost more the water, so it cost more to flush than to fill your toilet.

Feel free to contact me for more information on your specific mhp.
We’re here to answer your water sub-metering questions.

Dan Helton
Southern Water Management


Thanks for the info everyone.

In this case, the water and sewer are billed by different providers. The water is provided by a nearby city, and the sewer is provided by the county in which the park is located (the nearby city is not part of the county). The sewer provider calculates sewer charges based on water usage from two years prior.

We dropped the deal today for other reasons, so I may never get a satisfactory answer. My educated guess based on the info above is that there were water leaks in the past which were fixed and those water leaks took a couple years to show up as higher sewer bills.