- FAQs About Utility Bills
FAQs About Utility Bills
Frequently Asked Questions
The City of Spring Hill bills utility customers within city limits for usage of water, sewer, sanitation (garbage and recycling), and storm water drainage on a monthly basis. If you have questions about your bill, we hope this series of FAQs will help answer them. If you still have remaining questions after reviewing the FAQs, please feel free to call the City of Spring Hill Utility Billing Office at (931) 486-2252, and choose Option 1.
What is the City Services fee that appears on my bill as a line item?
The $5.73 "City Services" fee appears as a line-item charge in residents’ monthly bills. The purpose of the fee is to help cover the costs for services such as picking up leaves and tree limbs.
How much am I charged for water?
The City of Spring Hill offers one of the lowest water rates around. Single-family residential water customers are charged a monthly base rate of $10.76 ($9.80 + tax), and $3.69 for every 1,000 gallons.
How much am I charged for sewer?
The rate for single-family residential sewer is a monthly base rate of $12.07 (no tax), and then $4.52 per 1,000 gallons of water used.
How much am I charged for garbage and recycling collection?
The sanitation portion of your bill is a flat rate of $10.87 per month for garbage collection and disposal, and $4.65 per month for curbside recycling collection.
What is the storm water portion of my bill for?
All residential customers are charged $3.50 per month, which helps fund storm water drainage improvements. In some unique cases, a household may be charged a higher storm water fee based on the amount of impervious surfaces on the property, which creates more storm water runoff.
What’s the billing period I am being charged for?
The bill you are seeing this month is for utility usage roughly between the mid-point of the two previous months. For example, your July bill will be for utilities used from roughly mid-May through mid-June, which can sometimes include greater water usage than normal in the summer, especially if an irrigation system has been used.
How does the City determine my home sewer usage?
Because it’s not possible to meter sewer usage on a large scale, most cities determine usage in one of two ways: either by charging a flat monthly fee based on average citywide usage, or the sewer bill is extrapolated based on your water usage. The City of Spring Hill does the latter. The reason is simple: water that goes into a home as drinking water must come out at some point as wastewater. We believe basing sewer usage on your water usage is a fairer method as it more accurately charges customers for their estimated usage rather than asking customers to pay a flat fee, which causes customers on the low side of sewer usage to subsidize those on the high side.
Why am I charged a higher rate for sewer than for water?
It cost the City significantly more to provide sewer services. Here are the primary reasons:
1. It cost more to treat wastewater than it does drinking water. While there have been advances over the years in how we treat drinking water, generally speaking, the basic fundamentals of it have changed very little over the years. You can render high-quality drinking water by settling it, filtering it and disinfecting it. On the other hand, treating wastewater has become increasing more complex over the years and now comes with a wide range of state and federal requirements that make it very expensive to treat. That’s for good reason: Societies have learned over time that we can’t simply release large amounts of raw or partially treated sewage onto the land or into our local waterways without adverse health and habitat effects. Under today’s standards, the treated water released out of the wastewater treatment plant is far cleaner than when the water plant received the water originally from the river. It’s actually treated by the wastewater plant at a level that renders it nearly equal to drinking water.
2. The City of Spring Hill had to expand our wastewater treatment plant a few years ago, roughly doubling its capacity, in order to process all of the sewage created by the thousands of new residents that have moved into Spring Hill in recent years and to prepare for continued growth.
3. Electrical costs are much higher for a wastewater treatment plant than for a water treatment plant.
4. There are major cost differences in the construction of water distribution systems compared to wastewater collection systems. Your drinking water flows through pressurized pipelines using pumps, allowing it to flow not only downhill but uphill when needed. That allows for constructing water pipelines at a minimum ground depth. Wastewater pipes, on the other hand, have to flow by gravity, meaning they can only flow downhill. In rolling terrain, as we have here in Spring Hill, sewer lines must sometimes be built deep beneath the ground into hard rock. The deeper the pipe, the higher the cost of construction because contractors must excavate into the rock.
5. Because of factor No. 4, it determines where the two types of pipelines must be built. Because sewer collection systems rely on gravity flow, they must be built in lower-lying areas so nearby homes will be at a higher elevation in order to flow downhill. The public right-of-way needed to build these sewer systems must be acquired and cleared at a much greater cost than for water lines, which are not restricted by gravity flow. Water pipelines can be built in already-cleared road rights-of-way.
6. The size of a city’s drinking water distribution system is usually larger than its wastewater collection system, meaning the City has a slightly larger customer base to support its water operating costs. That lowers the cost to water customers. This is not a big factor in Spring Hill, but still a factor considering that not all residents are on the sewer system in Spring Hill. Some residents still have septic tanks.
How accurate are the automated meter readers used by the City of Spring Hill?
Because these meters use the latest technology, they are far more accurate and exact than manual meter reading. The automated meters have proven a great improvement for our water system. Automated meters are read from a City vehicle as our Public Works crew members drive by a residence, and without leaving the vehicle in most cases. This makes the process more efficient and requires less staff. The customer also benefits by receiving a more exact reading compared to manually reading meters, which involves some estimation and creates more room for human error.
Where is my water meter located?
It is normally found at the property line in the front yard.
How can I tell if I have a water leak?
One way to initially test your meter to determine for yourself whether you have a water leak is to ensure that all water sources are turned off inside and outside of your home, then go and watch your water meter. There is a dial with a hand that looks somewhat like a second hand on a watch. Note its position. Observe the position of this hand for 2 to 3 minutes. If it moves even the slightest during this time, then you have a water leak somewhere. There may also be a small triangle or a star-shaped device on the dial. If it is moving, water is leaking.
What do I do if I determine there’s a leak?
You may have a water cut-off valve inside your house. If so, close the valve. If the meter is still moving, your leak is between the meter and the valve location. Look for wet spots in the yard. This type of leak is often difficult to locate because the leaking water absorbs into the ground, making it difficult to see signs of a leak, and you may need to call your local plumber. If the meter flow indicator hand stops when the cut-off valve is closed, the leak is in the house beyond the cut-off valve. Turn the valve back on and check under the house for leaks. Check the water level in the toilet. It should be at least a ½-inch below the top of the overflow tube. Some leaks are very small. A leak that runs 24 hours a day will add up to a significantly larger utility bill.
How can I calculate how much water my household uses per month for various types of water uses, such as taking showers and/or baths, flushing toilets, brushing teeth, hand washing, dish washing, laundry, watering plants, etc.?
Here are methods for calculating your estimated average home water usage, according to the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts and the U.S. EPA. Follow the directions and total each category. When you’re finished, total your final numbers from each category to get your average daily water usage. For your average monthly water usage, multiply your daily usage amount by 30.
- Showers: Multiply the number of daily showers in your household by the number of minutes each shower takes. Now multiply that number by 3 gallons per minute used.
- Baths: Multiply the number of daily baths by 36 (gallons in a full bath) or 18 gallons (in a half full tub).
- Toilets: Multiply the number of persons in the home by the number of daily flushes. (The average is four per person). Multiply that figure by 3, the number of gallons used per flush (Most new toilets use only about 1.6 gallons per flush while older toilets used about 4 gallons).
- Brushing Teeth: Multiply the number of persons in the home by the number of daily tooth brushings. Multiply that figure by 3 (the number of gallons used while the faucet runs for one minute).
- Hand Washing: Multiply the number of times per day dishes are hand washed by the number of minutes the water is running. Multiply that number by 3.
- Dishwasher: Add the number of times a week you run your home’s automatic dishwasher, and divide it by 7 to obtain the average daily usage. Multiple that figure by 12 (the number of gallons used by each wash).
- Laundry: Add the number of times a week you run the clothes washer (loads per week) and divide by 7. Multiply that figure by 11.6 (the number of gallons used per load).
- Other Indoor Uses: The people in your household use water in a variety of other ways. Multiply the number of persons in your household by 10 gallons.
- Outside Watering: Multiply the number of minutes you have a hose turned on (watering plants and trees, washing cars, filling pools, etc.) by 6.
*If you have water-saving appliances or toilets, your water usage may be somewhat less than the amount you have calculated using these methods.
I recently had an irrigation system installed. It’s programmed to water three times a week during the evenings. However, my bill is higher than expected. What could be causing it?
First, you will want to ensure that the time interval it’s irrigating is only as long as is needed for your yard’s soil and turf needs, and for the time of year. You also will want to verify whether the irrigation system installer may have also programmed the system to come on at a different time interval. There have been cases where residents have been concerned about the increase in their bill, under the assumption that roughly the same amount of water had been used as in previous months, and higher bill turned out to be the result of irrigation occurring without their knowledge. For instance, in many of these cases, after the meter was checked by the City and determined to be working properly, and no leaks were found, a profile meter was installed on the home, allowing the City to pinpoint when water is legitimately used because it shows when water passed through the meter. In some cases, a resident’s irrigation system was automatically coming on during early morning hours, without their knowledge, when the family was sleeping, causing the bill to be abnormally high.
How much can my swimming pool impact my bill?
If you recently had a pool installed, it can take 7,000 to 25,000 gallons of water to initially fill an average above ground pool, and 17,000 to 55,000 gallons to fill an in-ground pool. This can add anywhere from $25 to $200 to your water bill in the month when it’s filled. There have been instances, regarding high bill complaints, when a family member has emptied and refilled the family swimming pool without the other family members' knowledge, causing the bill to unexpectedly rise.
Can I get an adjustment on the sewer portion of my bill for the water used to fill my swimming pool?
Yes, a customer filling a pool may call the City of Spring Hill utility billing office at 931-486-2252 (choose Option 1) to request a pool adjustment. For a qualifying pool adjustment, the City of Spring Hill will subtract the portion of the sewer charge that would have been based on the pool’s water usage in that billing cycle. For instance, if you filled a 7,000-gallon pool, the City would subtract $34.67 for the sewer portion of the 7,000 gallons.
What are some other examples of what can cause a utility bill to be higher than normal?
In one case, a resident was unaware, until a profile meter was installed, that her son was coming home from his late shift at work and taking an hour-long shower every night. In many cases, a seldom-used toilet in an upstairs bathroom is running continuously because of a leak in the toilet tank seal, leaving it to go unnoticed for a significant time. When a toilet first begins running, it can be hard to hear or detect, though it can cause a large amount of water to be used – anywhere from 5,000 to 60,000 gallons in a month, depending on the severity of the leak.
What is a profile meter?
There are two styles of water meters that exist in the City of Spring Hill: The old style meters measure the water that has gone through them but they do not give any detailed information about the usage. The latest profile meters, which are installed as a replacement meter when an old meter stops functioning properly, are capable of issuing a detailed report that shows the exact usage at a certain time and date. That technology only came out in about 2007. The City is gradually replacing the old meters over time when they expire.
Why can’t the City replace everyone’s meter with a profile meter?
That eventually will happen. Unfortunately, if your old style meter is still working properly, the City cannot immediately replace it with a profile meter because it would be cost prohibitive to replace them all at once. It will be replaced when the old meter quits functioning properly. Eventually, all homes in Spring Hill will have them. As of August 2016, roughly 40 to 50 percent of Spring Hill homes have a profile meter.
Badger Water Meter