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Here's how you save on your Austin Water bill year-round by using less in the winter

A dripping faucet
Gabriel C. Pérez

If you live in Austin, you will get a chance to save money on next year’s water bills some time over the next few months. To find out why, and how you can save, it helps to understand how the city’s water utility charges people differently for wastewater versus the rest of the water they use.

How does it work?

Imagine all the water you use at home. Some of it goes down drains or flushes down the toilet; that water is called wastewater. It needs to be treated before it’s returned to nature. The rest of it might go to watering plants, washing your car or filling up a kiddie-pool on a hot day. That water never gets treated, so you’re charged less for it.

What is Wastewater Averaging?

To figure out how much water is one kind and how much is the other, Austin Water looks at your water use for a three-month period starting sometime in November or December. People do less outdoor watering during winter, so the utility assumes most of the water you use is going down your drain.

Austin Water takes an average of your water use over those three months, and calls it your "monthly wastewater use." It applies that to your water bill every month for the whole next year. So, if you use less water during that three-month period, your wastewater bill will be lower year-round.

When will Austin Water estimate my wastewater use?

You can find out which three months the utility will estimate your wastewater use this winter by going to this page on the Austin Water website. To figure it out, you will need to know what billing cycle you are on. You can find that by looking at the first page of your utility bill next to the “Utility News” heading. You can find current differences in cost between wastewater and normal water for residential customers here.

Remember your bill is determined by more than just how much wastewater you use. The best way to pay less is to conserve more water. That’s especially important as local reservoirs remain low, despite recent showers over the city. You can check reservoir levels here.

Mose Buchele focuses on energy and environmental reporting at KUT. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @mosebuchele.
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