Water issues

There have been periodic issues with water bills. My issue was with exorbitant bills appearing all of a sudden.

But there are others, including water quality, which I may address in due course.

But for now, how to estimate water bills based on usage (and periodic meter readings by you, dear reader… :-):

Thank you to the City for good faith response. A team came and examined my system and found nothing to explain a doubling, but also offered a lot of information:

1. Most cases involve leaks. People complain (as I did) but then never report the result. (So I am doing so—we are all woefully incompetent at mind-reading).

2. They agree that major leaks don’t go away, but valves can get sediment and toilet floats get dirty, that can cause intermittent loss. In my case they did find one toilet stopper weeping slightly.

3. They offer a brochure and dye tablets to do the tests, but you can also use food dye, put some in the tank, wait 5-10 minutes, if the color appears in the bowl then you have a leak.

4. The meters are mechanical and the dials are driven by flow. The readers are electronic but they just read the mechanical value.

5. As our City Councilor points out, they can’t read minds. They want to know if you have a problem. Call them at 845-5600 if you have an issue.


So the single month usage spike is a mystery, but it is what it is.

So the only answer is to pay attention to your usage.

You can check your own usage and project your bill by using this calculator. You can download it (a spreadsheet) here. Do so and check it out daily.

I have a really detailed spreadsheet here if you really care, but in short, here are the my highly calibrated expected usages for different activities in gallons:

(Of course, all the necessarily politically correct caveats apply, use at your own risk, I’ve done the best I could, hey I’m just trying to help. If you don’t like it don’t use it. And it may be wrong, but probably isn’t :-):

  1. After downloading and opening the file enter the data from your last bill in the first set of pale yellow shaded cells
  2. Read your meter and enter the date, time, and meter reading in the second set of pale yellow shaded cells
  3. Enter Y or N in the pale yellow shaded cell under Residential (Y/N)
  4. Enter the expected date of your next bill in the next pale yellow shaded cell under Date
  5. The results are printed in blue.
  6. Pay attention if the number in the bottom right corner is too big! 🙂
Hope this helps!