Why am I being charged for sewer? 

Why am I being charged for sewer?

Why am I being charged for sewer?

If your water authority is charging you for the capture, treatment and delivery of potable drinking water, then there is a high chance they are also charging you for the capture, treatment and discharge of wastewater. There are a number of processes that take place for water authorities to deliver these essential services to rate payers. If this service is not delivered well, there is an increase in risk to public health and the environment. 


What does the money go towards?

The primary functions of wastewater services is to collect, treat and discharge wastewater. The objective of any wastewater system is to do this in the most efficient manner that meets the public health and environmental goals of the community. This can be really challenging, as there are several technical and non-technical outcomes that need to be achieved. But at the heart of it, the system can be broken down into: 

  1. Collection systems- these are generally the pipes, manholes, trunk sewers, pumping stations etc.
  2. Storage systems- these are generally septic tanks, temporary storage tanks, etc. 
  3. Treatment/discharge systems- these are generally wastewater treatment/recycling facilities and discharge structures. 

Each of the above sub-systems needs to perform well in order to meet the public health and environmental goals of the community. There is an expense to keep these systems performing 24/7, and that is what the sewer charges go towards. 

wastewater treatment plant

How do the charges get applied?

Each water authority charges differently depending on the regulation and legislation in the region. For most water authorities, the charges are split up into fixed charges and variable charges, and the way they charge their customers often differs by customer type. Fixed charges are charges that customer pay on a regular basis (e.g. quarterly) for the fact that there is a connection into the public sewer system. Variable charges are charges based on a usage metric (e.g. per kilolitre or per hundred cubic feet). From what I have seen, most variable usage charges are applied to commercial and industrial customers, and less likely to apply to residential customers. The usage of residential customers is usually covered in the fixed charge. Because commercial and industrial wastewater discharge has a higher load of contaminants, there is a greater level of treatment complexity required that the water authorities have to account for, therefore levying an additional usage charge to cover the associated costs. 

About the Author

Amanda Siqueira is an Australian civil and environmental engineer who has worked in design, construction and remediation of drainage and sewer pipes in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. She has passion for all things pipes and is also one of the Co-founders of VAPAR.

Experience the future of pipe condition assessments.

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