Billing Questions:

Residential sewer bill - Residential customers are charged based on the average monthly water

usage during the months of January, February and March.  If a person moves to the City during any

other time of the year, the user shall be charged based on the actual water used for the first three

months of service.  After the first three months, the user will be charged according to the average of

the first three months for the remainder of the billing year.  A new resident may submit documents

from their previous water company showing accurate water meter readings for the months of

October through March of the most current year.  After review the user may be charged according

to the six month average for the remainder of the billing year.  This is helpful if a person is watering

a new lawn or filling a swimming pool.  The monthly sewer bill for a residential user will be mailed to

the owner of the property.

 WHY ARE SEWER BILLS HIGHER THAN WATER BILLS IN HOLTS SUMMIT?

 

In a way, water is a lot like a two-way toll bridge… it costs us coming and going.  Turning lake, river, or ground water into safe drinking water has a cost.  Cleansing the resulting wastewater for its return to the environment has another cost.  Whatever the costs, customers are sometimes surprised to find their sewer bill to be as much as, or even more than their water bill.  How can this be?  After all, drinking water is clean, pure, healthful.  Wastewater is, well… sewage.

 

Actually, it is not unusual across the country for a sewer bill to be higher than the corresponding water bill.  As environmental regulations have become more and more stringent over the past few decades, the costs of treating wastewater to required levels have risen substantially.

 

The relative sizes of a customer’s water bill and sewer bill depend on how various water and wastewater utilities calculate their bills.  Drinking water providers like Callaway County Water District #1 ordinarily bill monthly based on the quantity of water metered plus a monthly service charge.  Callaway County Water District #1’s current residential water rate is $7.23 service fee plus $2.50 per thousand gallons of water metered.

 

Many providers of wastewater treatment services, like the City of Holts Summit Sewer Department, also charge for their service based on the amount of drinking water metered - although some providers bill a flat monthly fee.  Basing a sewer bill on drinking water usage is simple logic: “what goes in must come out”.  In other words, water that goes into a home as drinking water is returned as wastewater.  The City of Holts Summit’s single-family residential sewer service charges as of March 1, 2015 are $21.56 service fee plus $4.53 per thousand gallons of drinking water.

 

A typical family might use about 7,500 gallons of drinking water in a month.  The water bill from Callaway County Water District #1 for that usage would be $27.23.  The sewer bill from the City of Holts Summit Sewer Department for the same month would be $57.80.

 

WHY YOU ASK?

 Sewer charges are higher than water costs for many reasons.  The major reason lies in the differences between the systems for water distribution and wastewater collection.  Drinking water flows through pressurized pipelines.  It can move uphill as well as downhill.  This means that water pipelines can be constructed at minimum depth below the ground surface, often above the rock layers.  On the other hand, wastewater must flow by gravity – downhill the whole way.  In rolling terrain, sewer lines must sometimes be built deep beneath the ground, well into hard rock.  Trench excavation – especially in rock - is the largest part of the cost of building a pipeline.  The deeper the pipe, the higher the cost of construction.

 

Another cost factor lies in where the two types of pipelines can be built.  Since sewers rely on gravity to cause flow, they must be built in lower-lying areas so adjacent homes will be at a higher elevation.  Right-of-way must be acquired and cleared, adding to overall costs.  Water line locations however, are not restricted by the laws of gravity flow.  Water pipelines can be built in already-cleared road rights-of-way, often above the tough rock layers.  This construction is much easier and quicker.

 

The sizes of drinking water distribution and wastewater collection systems also affect costs.  Ordinarily, a community will serve more of its citizens with public drinking water than with sewer service.  Many water customers are on septic tanks instead of sewers.  The water utility has a larger customer base to support its operating costs, lowering the cost to individual customers.

 

Also figuring into the mix are the differences in the treatment of drinking water and wastewater.  The fundamentals of making drinking water have changed little over the years: settle it, filter it, and disinfect it.  That method produces high-quality drinking water in systems the world over.

 

The complexity of wastewater treatment, on the other hand, has increased dramatically over the years.  In its earliest form at the turn of the century, wastewater treatment (if it was provided at all) consisted of screening out the really big objects, then discharging the rest to a nearby creek.  Fifty years later came settling tanks to remove smaller solids… but the finished product remained terribly polluted, by today’s standards.  Over the last couple of decades, treatment has evolved to include sophisticated biological systems for removing organic materials, complicated filters, and modern disinfection methods.  The water released by the treatment facility is usually cleaner than the receiving stream!  The advanced systems are costly to build and operate, increasing the overall cost of wastewater treatment, in most cases.

 

The cost of treating wastewater has risen more dramatically than the cost of producing drinking water over the years.  So it is logical that sewer bills are higher than water bills.  Still, Holts Summit residents enjoy better water and sewer rates than much of the country.  In spite of our area’s comparatively low rates, we still enjoy the benefits of a well-run wastewater collection and treatment system - clean water resources and reliable sewer service

 

 Multi-family units and mobile/manufactured home parks - The monthly sewer bill will be mailed to the owner of the property based on actual usage.

Commercial Users - There are two types of commercial users: Class A - all commercial users that use on average less than 6,000 gallons of water per month during the immediate proceeding January, February and March.  The monthly sewer bill for Class A users will be mailed to the tenant. Class B Commercial Users - all commercial users that use on average more than 6,000 gallons of water per month, during the immediate proceeding January, February and March.  The monthly sewer bill for Class B users will be mailed to the tenant.

When bill is due - All sewer payments are due at City Hall by the 15th day of each month.  A $5 charge will be added to such bill for each month thereafter that payment is not made.  If payment is not received by the 15th day of the month, a delinquent notice will be mailed to the owner of the property and the tenant notifying them that the property will be physically disconnected from the sewer system if payment in full is not received by 10 a.m. on the sixteenth day of the following month.  A reconnect charge of $50 will apply.

After hours sewer emergency - If you experience a sewer emergency after 5 p.m. on a weekday, on a holiday or a Saturday or Sunday, you can call 1-877-580-7136 for service.