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How to Read Your Utility Bill

Post Date:01/28/2015 7:46 AM

Feb 2015 water billGilbert, Ariz.- Now is a great time to examine your Gilbert utility bill. During the cooler months, most people’s water use occurs indoors. Looking at how much water your household uses now can prepare you for potential problems down the line, such as a leak or heavy summer overwatering of the lawn, both of which can result in a higher-than-normal bill.

Let’s check out the “billing details” section of your utility bill to see what you are paying for each month—because it is more than just water.

Sewer: Residential sewer rates are based upon a base fee of $15.90 per month, plus $1.24 per 1,000 gallons of water sent to the wastewater treatment plant through the sewer pipes (any water you flush, shower, or rinse down the drain). Because we do not separately meter indoor and outdoor water use, we determine the amount of water your household sends to the wastewater treatment plant based on 70% of your winter average water use. The winter average is determined by measuring water usage billed in January, February, and March.

Bottom line: If you can find ways to reduce your winter water use, you may find a lower sewer rate as a result. Each year your sewer fee is recalculated based on 70% of your household’s winter average usage. If you had a major leak or other issue that caused your winter water usage to be out of the norm, submit a sewer recalculation form to ensure you don’t pay more in the sewer fee than you have to.

water1Refuse: Simply put, this is how much you pay to have your garbage and recyclables hauled away from your house. The rate is based on the size of container you have (and how many). 

water2Water (meter base fee): Your bill indicates the meter size at your property. Most residential meters are either ¾ inch or 1 inch meters. Your meter base fee occurs every month, regardless of water usage.  

Water (residential water consumption): In Gilbert we charge you for water in the thousands of gallons. Meaning if you use 5,500 gallons in one month, we charge you for 5,000 gallons.

In the arid southwest, most municipalities bill for water usage in an increasing block rate structure. This means the more water you use, the more you pay. Lower tiers represent the water needed for basic heath and sanitation of everyday living (cleaning, cooking, bathing, and washing, for example). Higher tiers represent discretionary water uses (pools, landscapes) and therefore residents are charged more for that water.

We all know that saving water can save money. However, where you have the greatest potential to save money is if you can reduce your water usage from a higher tier to a lower tier. Gilbert’s water rates are structured into the following tiers:


Tax: A tax of 7.8% is charged on water fees—the meter base fee and the water consumption. The 7.8% is the combined total for Arizona State (6.3%) and Gilbert tax (1.5%).

Note that our water rates haven’t increased in 6 years; we’re doing everything we can to ensure safe, reliable and cost effective water service for Gilbert.

Visit the Gilbert utilities homepage for more information on fees and services. Interested in paying your bill online? Check out this video tutorial on how to get set up with an online account.

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