Watering in Winter

  • December 4, 2017

  • By Jessica Woods

  • Posted In: Water Spot

While it doesn’t quite seem like it’s nearly winter, it is already the start of the wastewater averaging (WWA) season.  What is wastewater averaging, you ask?  Well, let me tell you…

In the winter months the City assumes that our water usage is lower than any other time of year simply because it’s cold out (its winter and ideally cold!) and we’re not watering our yards.  As an aside, during winter the lawn and landscape isn’t growing, it’s going dormant.  No need to water it at all, just an occasional watering once a month is plenty.  Because these month’s water consumption is low, the City uses these 3 billing cycles (Nov-Dec, Dec-Jan, Jan-Feb) to determine how much you’re going to be charged for wastewater (a.k.a. sewer) for the rest of the year.  The City has no meter on the wastewater line coming out of your house, so we can’t see exactly how much water is being put down the drains; we make an educated assumption that all water being used at your house is going down the drain.  Since no water is being used outdoors (Right??  Turn off those sprinkler systems!), then the theory is that all water is being used indoors, for necessary purposes—baths, showers, toilets, sinks, dish and clothes washers, etc.

The average of these months water use is what you are charged for wastewater for the remainder of the year.  So, for example, if you use 5400 gallons on your Dec bill, 4900 on January bill, and 4500 on February bill then your WWA would be 5400 + 4900 + 4500 / 3 = 4933, which would be rounded to 4900 gallons.  So, for the rest of the year, the most you’ll be charged for wastewater is 4900 gallons!  That’s good!  No matter if your water use goes higher in the summer; the waste water use is capped at 4900 gallons.

This is a number that is recalculated annually, so if you “mess up” and refill your pool or keep watering that yard the whole winter, you can fix it the next year by keeping the water use down.  So again, turn off those sprinklers!  Fix leaks!

Another way to keep water use low in winter is to check for leaks, especially in your toilets.  Watch our video to learn how to check your toilet to see if it’s efficient or if it’s leaking.  Dye tablets to check toilets for leaks are available free of charge at our utility billing office (in City Hall), or food coloring works well too.

I say in the video that toilets using 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less are considered efficient.  I want to add to that by saying that as of January 1, 2014, it became state law that all toilets sold in Texas must use 1.28 gallons per flush OR LESS.  So that means even if you have a 1.6 gpf toilet, you can make it even more efficient, and save more water each time you flush (and reduce those waste water charges further) by upgrading to a new 1.28 gpf toilet!  Upgrading from an older model toilet to a new one can save up to 4,000 gallons yearly!  Wow!  How many toilets do you have in your house that can be upgraded?

The City’s Water Conservation Program’s has a rebate program for this upgrade (could be a useful Christmas gift??).  Find the details about the toilet rebate at www.cityofroundrocktexas.gov/conservation.

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