Why did my water rates go up?

The City of Coconut Creek Water and Wastewater Utility is facing several challenges due to the current economic and operational environment in which it finds itself. A comprehensive rate study was conducted during 2008 to address:

  • Construction costs and many key operating costs such as electricity and fuel that have increased at rates substantially above normal cost inflation.
  • About 50% of the Utility’s annual operating expenses are for treatment charges from Broward County (the City has an agreement with Broward County to provide water and wastewater treatment services). These costs have increased about 20% since FY 2006, despite significant reductions in water demand and wastewater flow from the City.
  • The demand/flow reductions are due to recent drought conditions in south Florida that have resulted in increased water conservation awareness and watering restrictions imposed by the South Florida Water Management District (which are proposed to be year-round beginning in February 2009). While these demand reductions do in fact reduce some costs to a limited degree, the expense reduction is more than offset by wholesale rate increases and the revenue loss to the Utility from the reduction in billing units.
  • Further contributing to lower revenues is the reduced rate of new development/customer growth as well as a loss of customers. New development has essentially slowed to a stop due to a lagging economy and mortgage lending crisis, which has also resulted in many homes throughout the City being vacant as they remain on the market.
  • Annual rate adjustments have not kept up with inflation. The last increase of 1.5% was October 1, 2007.

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Why is it important to conserve water?

The average family of four uses 6,000 gallons of water a month for indoor use. Irrigation consumes 1,000 gallons every 10 minutes. The amount of irrigation depends on the frequency and length of time of watering. Lawns only need watering once every three days in the summer and once every seven days in the winter. Rain can reduce the number of times lawn needs to be watered.

Most of us take for granted an abundant supply of good, fresh water. We meet our daily needs when we turn on the faucet and get seemingly unlimited running water. However, this situation is changing as more and more communities face water shortages.

Water shortages are certainly inconvenient and even scary. At first, they are hard to understand when we know that the United States daily rainfall equals 4.2 trillion gallons. However, water is not always located where it is needed and demand keeps increasing.

In the last 30 years the United States demand for water has grown faster than our ability to find new water sources. During this period while our population grew 52 percent, total water use tripled. Demand for water continues to rise sharply but population has increased only slightly in the last few years.

Water shortages are real, touching many United States communities each year. Because water conservation is a good defense against shortages, it should happen all the time, not just when shortages occur.

To begin conserving water, everyone needs to know some simple facts:

  • Water is a limited resource.
  • Water costs a great deal in energy and money to pump, move and purify.
  • Water consumption can be reduced significantly in the average home.

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Why is my water consumption high?

Once water passes through your water meter, the homeowner becomes responsible for the water. The City has no way of knowing specifically how the water was consumed. The average family of four uses 6,000 gallons of water a month for indoor use. Irrigation consumes 1,000 gallons every 10 minutes. The amount of irrigation depends on the frequency and length of time of watering. Lawns only need watering once every three days in the summer and once every seven days in the winter. Rain can reduce the number of times lawns need to be watered.

There are generally two reasons for ongoing high consumption: leaks and irrigation.

Leaks:
There are many types of leaks: toilet leaks, leaky faucet, pipe leaks within walls or under the house foundation, leaks in outside water lines, pool leaks and leaks in the irrigation line including broken sprinkler heads. Leaks can start as minor and unnoticeable and gradually become larger over time.

***LEAKS DO NOT GO AWAY ON THEIR OWN, AND REQUIRE YOUR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION***

Consumption that spikes temporarily is probably caused by other types of consumption, such as pressure cleaning or filling a pool.

Irrigation:
Irrigation consumes significant amounts of water. Lawns do not require to be watered every day.

Most lawns need about 3/4 to 1 inch of water once per week, or once every two weeks when the weather cools. ¾ to 1 inch of water will dampen the soil 6 to 8 inches, respectively.

To determine how long you must run your sprinklers to adequately water your lawn, turn on your sprinkler for 15 minutes. After 18-24 hours, find out how deep the water soaked in by digging a small hole in the watered area or using a probe (a probe will push easily through damp ground). You can also push a shovel into the ground and use it as a lever to spread the soil apart enough so that you can see several inches below the surface. Once you see how deep the water went in for 15 minutes, you can calculate how long you need to leave your sprinkler on. For example, if the soil is damp to 4 inches below the surface and your goal is to moisten the soil to a depth of 8 inches, you'll need to leave the sprinkler on for 30 minutes (2 X 15 minutes) each time you water. **

Water can come from rain or from irrigation. Infrequent but deep watering will encourage deep rooting, healthier and hardier plants with a greater tolerance for drought.

Water early in the day, especially in warmer weather, when evaporation rates are lowest, unless water restrictions specify differently.

Also, your lawn needs watering when:

  • Grass blades are folded in half
  • Grass blades are blue-gray
  • Your footprint remains on the lawn

Other common causes for high consumption:

  • Pressure cleaning
  • Filling a pool
  • Washing vehicles
  • Lot of laundry loads
  • Long showers
  • Consumer waste

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How can I determine if there is a leak?

First, ensure you are not using any water in the house, i.e. washing machine and dishwasher are not running, faucets are off, etc.

Then, locate your meter box. Most meter boxes are located on the ground normally at edge of property line. The meter box will have a metal gray or dark green/black lid.

Next, locate the dial on the meter inside the meter box, which looks similar to the face of a wrist watch.

If the indicator on the register dial is turning at this time, there may be a leak. To isolate whether the leak is inside or outside your home, turn off the house valve and if the dial stops turning the problem would be inside the house. If the dial continues to run, the problem would be outside between the meter box and the house valve.

The homeowner is responsible for water consumption and repairs from the meter box to within the home, or within the sprinkler line.

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What are some ways I can reduce water consumption?

  • Fixing leaks and replacing old plumbing fixtures with water saving ones could save a family of four 30,000 gallons of water a year.
  • Leaky toilets can waste approximately 200 gallons of water each day. Use food coloring in the tank to determine if there is a leak. If color appears in the bowl, there is a leak.
  • Installing displacement devices in toilets. They fit easily inside your toilet tank and reduce the volume of water used in each flush. Water concumption can decrease by 50% for each flush.
  • Operate automatic dishwashers and clothes washers only when are fully loaded or properly set the water level for the size of load you are using.
  • Do not use running water to thaw meat or other frozen foods. Defrost food overnight in the refrigerator or by using the defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Retrofit all wasteful household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictions. Water consumption can decrease by 13% for each aerator installed.
  • Check your water meter regularly. A daily/weekly ready of your water meter can indicate the amount of water consumed and if there are any possible leaks within your home.

 


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How often should I water my lawn?

Most lawns need about 3/4 to 1 inch of water once per week, or once every two weeks when the weather cools. ¾ to 1 inch of water will dampen the soil 6 to 8 inches, respectively.

To determine how long you must run your sprinklers to adequately water your lawn, turn on your sprinkler for 15 minutes. After 18-24 hours, find out how deep the water soaked in by digging a small hole in the watered area or using a probe (a probe will push easily through damp ground). You can also push a shovel into the ground and use it as a lever to spread the soil apart enough so that you can see several inches below the surface. Once you see how deep the water went in for 15 minutes, you can calculate how long you need to leave your sprinkler on. For example, if the soil is damp to 4 inches below the surface and your goal is to moisten the soil to a depth of 8 inches, you'll need to leave the sprinkler on for 30 minutes (2 X 15 minutes) each time you water.

Water can come from rain or from irrigation. Infrequent but deep watering will encourage deep rooting, healthier and hardier plants with a greater tolerance for drought.

Water early in the day, especially in warmer weather, when evaporation rates are lowest, unless water restrictions specify differently.

Also, your lawn needs watering when:

  • Grass blades are folded in half
  • Grass blades re blue-gray
  • Your footprint remains on the lawn

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How do I read my meter?

First, locate your meter box. Most meter boxes are located on the ground normally at the edge of the property line. The meter box will have a metal gray or dark green/black lid.

Second, locate the dial on the meter inside the meter box, which looks similar to the face of a wrist watch.

Third, take the meter read. Write down all numbers and any commas or decimals. Then truncate the number by having the thousandth column the last digit of the read. This read can be compared to the read on your water bill. The City reads the meter to the thousandth.

Please note: if the indicator on the register dial is turning at a time you are not using water, there may be a leak. Turn off the house valve and if the dial stops turning the problem would be inside the house. If the dial continues to run, the problem would be outside between the meter box and the house valve.

The homeowner is responsible for water consumption and repairs from the meter box to within the home.


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When do you read my meter?

The City physically reads your meter once a month. The meter is read by a computerized wand. The consumption is calculated based on the current read subtracted by the previous month’s read.

 

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When is my payment due?

Payment is due within 20 days of the statement date. If payment has not been received timely, a delinquent notice is sent on the next bill with a turn off date of service for nonpayment. Prior to the actual turn off date, the City makes courtesy calls on past due amounts to be paid prior to turn off of services.

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Do you charge late fees or interest?

The City does not charge any late fees or interest.

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How can I make my payment?

The City offers many methods to make payment. Payments can be:

  • Mailed to PO Box indicated on your payment stub
  • Made online using Visa or MasterCard 
  • Placed in the drop box in front of City Hall
  • Brought directly to City Hall: 4800 W. Copans Road, in the form of cash, check, Visa or MasterCard
  • Made by automatic debit from your bank account once you have applied for the Automatic Funds Transfer (AFT) Program

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