Sewer Cap/Winter Water Average

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Winter Averaging Period

It's that time again!  The Winter Averaging Period for the 2019-2020 year is approximately December 4 through March 9. Your usage during this period will determine your sewer cap for the 2020-2021 year, so make sure to turn off your irrigation! During these months the days are shorter, the weather is typically cooler, and there is more moisture in the air. Even in years where there is less rain than usual, using these months is still the best measurement we have of calculating your average impact on the sewer system. For more information on drought related impacts on winter water use, see Council Agenda Report dated May 6, 2014 and Resolution No. 10587.

Winter Averaging Process

The City’s sewer charges are directly tied to water usage. Each property is separately metered, and single family residences are restricted from having dedicated landscape meters; this can lead to irrigation costs registering for applicable sewer charges. To compensate for this difference in usage, the City instituted the Sewer Cap for residential customers.* Water usage is tracked from December through February when irrigation systems are likely off. The usage is averaged to determine the sewer cap applicable for the upcoming year.** For example: 

       December Usage (January Meter Read)  4 units  
   January Usage (February Meter Read)  5 units  
   February Usage (March Meter Read)  7 units  = 16 units / 3 = 5.33

In this case, the Sewer Cap will be set at 5. Once the Sewer Cap is determined, it becomes effective July 1 of that year. This Sewer Cap will apply to the customer’s account for the entire year, until the following July, when the new winter average will be established anew.

How it Works

The Sewer Cap sets the maximum that a customer will be charged for wastewater treatment (sewer) per month. The amount a customer is billed each month is based on their usage up to their cap. For example, using the sewer cap of 5 determined above:     

 Month  Units "Used"  Units Billed Cost 
  August 5 5 $47.20  
  September 7 5   47.20  
  October 4 4 37.76  

 * Sewer Caps apply only to residential properties. Commercial and industrial customers who are concerned they may be paying sewer costs for irrigation may opt for a dedicated landscape meter installed at their own expense.

 ** The Sewer Cap defaults to 8 units for new customers that do not yet have an established winter average (6 units applies per dwelling for multi-family properties like duplexes and apartment buildings on a single meter).