“Why Is My Sacramento Sewer Bill So High?” Brett in CA Asks a Plumbing Expert
Like many savvy homeowners these days, our friend Brett in Sacramento has started to get more proactive about some of his monthly expenses so that he can save some extra money for the more important things in life, like vacations and dinners out with the family. Brett asks:
“I’m not sure if I’m alone on this one, but I’ve noticed that the cost of my water bill has started to creep up higher and higher in recent years. There are some months where my total water bill is higher than my electric bill, which seems crazy. I remember that about three years ago my water bill, which also includes my sewer bill, was always right around $68. Nowadays, it’s closer to $82 most months.
This has, obviously, made me quite curious about whether there’s something to blame for this that I can fix or change. I looked at my bill breakdown and it looks like my sewer bill has also gone up. I don’t really know much about wastewater or sewer bills, so that’s why I’m looking for a plumbing expert who really knows his stuff to help me out. Basically, what I want to know is, why is my Sacramento sewer bill so high? Thanks!”
Aw, Brett, it’s nice to hear that you think of me as a “plumbing expert who really knows his stuff,” and because flattery will get you everywhere, I’m going to do what I can this week to answer your question. As the Sacramento water and sewer bill costs have gone up in recent years, this particular question has started to be on more and more homeowners’ minds.
Costs and fees for water and sewer service paid by homeowners is always a pretty complex topic (we do live in California after all, where anything regarding water is never simple). As a residential plumber, I tend to hear my fair share of questions about water and drainage costs, especially during things I do such as plumbing inspection for a home purchase with folks who aren’t from our area. So, let’s go over some of the basics here today, both for Brett’s sake and for any of you out there who are also feeling the pinch of increased costs.
Why Is My Sacramento Sewer Bill So High: The Easy Answer
The reason why your Sacramento sewer bill is so high is that the city has structured annual increases in water and sewer costs into its rates. It’s not that your individual sewer bill has gotten so high, it’s that all unmetered water customers in Sacramento are subject to the same rate increases.
What then, you may wonder, do these rate increases look like? Well, there’s a handy chart to show you the exact numbers on the city of Sacramento’s website, but to sum it up:
- In 2015, unmetered water customers were paying about $45 for water and $22 for sewer, totaling a combined $68 and change.
- In 2016, this went up to $74 and change
- In 2017, it rose to over $81.
This explains the estimated numbers Brett gave us in his question. The way it breaks down is that sewer bills, specifically, have gone from $22.42 in 2015 to $26.94 in 2017.
More Specifics About Why Your Sacramento Sewer Bill Is So High
So, your sewer bills have gotten higher and higher because the fee being charged by the city was predetermined by the local government to go up each year. But, it’s also important to take a look at why, exactly, that cost is rising.
The reason that Sacramento sewer bill fees are going up is to pay fees for city services and for the costs of development impact.
The reason that Sacramento sewer bill fees are going up is to pay fees for city services and for the costs of development impact. The rising service costs also pay for local wastewater operations and an accompanying capital improvement program that keeps our streets from flooding and our sewers from backing up. Simply put, to maintain the health of our sewers, the city needs more money.
Also, you should begin to plan for the fact that sewer rates are set to increase to $29 in July 2018 and again rise to $31 and change in July 2019.
Also, you should begin to plan for the fact that sewer rates are set to increase to $29 in July 2018 and again rise to $31 and change in July 2019. I know, I know, it can seem like a lot, and it’s hard to get excited about benefits that sound as distant and wonky as “better municipal drainage,” but take it from me, a professional plumber, this sewer stuff is important for our entire Sacramento community.
Why Paying Higher Sacramento Sewer Bills Is Worth It
Sacramento has what’s known as a Mediterranean climate, which means that we have hot and dry summers with barely any rain, but wet and chilly winters. Some winter months, it can rain for days on end, leading to sewer troubles when the system gets overfilled or debris creates a clogged. This can then lead to sewage backing up into nearby houses—and nobody wants that. In other words, the next time you’re feeling bummed about your rising sewer costs, just ask yourself whether you’d rather pay a few extra bucks a month or whether you’d prefer to rely on these tips for drain clearing when wastewater from your neighborhood’s sewers starts to fill your tub up during a flash storm.
There are, however, other ways for Brett and like-minded homeowners to save money on utility bills, even if they’re subjected to fixed rates applied to unmetered houses in Sacramento.
There are, however, other ways for Brett and like-minded homeowners to save money on utility bills, even if they’re subjected to fixed rates applied to unmetered houses in Sacramento. My advice is to have a plumbing and HVAC expert out to evaluate your property for what we refer to as a “whole-home approach,” which recommends making several home upgrades at once, ranging from more efficient windows to new insulation, to ensure that your house is as energy efficient as possible—the best way to lower your overall utility bills.
Here at Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals are experts on the whole-home approach. We’d be thrilled to evaluate your home and give you estimates for the proposed upgrades. And, if you heard my description of a common sewer backup and are worried about it happening in your home, we can also evaluate your plumbing and make sure you’ve done everything on your end to prevent it from happening this winter or spring. You may not be able to entirely control how high your sewer bill rises, but you can definitely save yourself from having sewage rise into your tub.
At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing and HVAC professionals are ready and waiting to come take a look at your home and suggest upgrades to make it more energy efficient. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.
Wondering how to finance new plumbing—or even a furnace or window upgrade? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.
Image courtesy Wayhome Studio