New residents’ sewer bills should be based on usage

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I moved into a new home in late January 2013 that is part of a homeowners association. The association pays for lawn watering. Therefore, my individual water usage and individual sewer usage are identical. I was surprised that I was being charged a rate of 7 units for sewer each month even though I was only using 1 unit of sewer.

I called the city and learned that the Manhattan Water Department, by city ordinance (4815, Section 32-118),  uses the average water consumption for every residence during the months of December, January and February to establish the annual sewer rate for every residential user. The rate is re-evaluated and adjusted up or down on an annual basis by using the water consumption for these same three months.

With new residential customers who have not established a previous winter quarter usage, the city sets their sewer rate at the current citywide average of 7 units (1 unit equals 750 gallons). Unfortunately, there is no refund for any difference between the citywide average and actual consumption during this time frame.

I believe that when you move into a hew home or apartment, you should have the option of having your sewer usage based on the first three full months you live there or the citywide average of 7 units — whichever best fits your situation. I will end up paying about $200 more for sewer charges than I actually use by the time the city re-evaluates my rate in March 2014.

Most apartment owners who pay water bills do not have lawns to water, so their water and sewer usage is equivalent each month. I think ordinance 4815, Section 32-118 should be modified to account for residences where lawns are not maintained, and that those residences should be billed for sewer usage based on actual water consumption and not on an average for the City of Manhattan.

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