Winter Watering Makes Your Sewer Bill (and Weeds) Grow

Nathan Riggs

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a say in how much you’re charged for your monthly sewer service? Wait a minute, you actually do!

Ok everyone, let’s have a show of hands to see how many of you run your irrigation systems at least once per week during the winter? Now, ask yourself why? Because dormant grass won’t grow!

First, you must understand that irrigating dormant grass will not make it grow, no matter how hard you try or how much water you apply. Only the roots of grasses, trees and shrubs are active in the winter and generally survive on the sporadic rainfall that the area receives. What WILL turn green because of irrigation are the germinating winter weeds like dandelions and henbit, along with cool-season weedy grasses such as rye, fescue, Poa anna and rescue grass.

Lower Those Sewer Charges

Why is not irrigating in the winter important? Your sewer bill. SAWS uses the period between mid-November to mid-March each year to calculate the winter average. SAWS averages the water consumption over three consecutive billing periods during the above timeframe to calculate the monthly sewer billing charges the following year.

Why use the winter? Water use for residential customers in winter is assumed to be primarily occurring indoors, and thus exiting the property via the sewer pipes. Wastewater output is not metered for residential SAWS customers.

Pay Attention To Your Consumption

If you are irrigating, draining and refilling a pool/spa, or have a bad unrepaired leak during this three-month period, you will see this higher consumption reflected in your metered domestic water use and will be included in that winter average sewer calculation. If you repair a leak during the winter averaging period, call SAWS Customer Service so a bill review can be performed and adjust for the leak (leak repair receipts must be provided) to make sure the sewer charges are accurate and don’t include the extra water caused by the leak. NOTE: Irrigation, filling a pool/spa and regular consumption during the winter averaging period are not eligible for adjustments.

Next time you’re in the garage — or wherever your irrigation controller is installed — switch the controller off or set it to manual operation. Your budget will appreciate the attention to detail.

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