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Customer Service Questions and Answers

Higher Water Bill Than Expected?  Start here to learn more about irrigation, water leaks, and high bill inspection process
Did you know...
An average irrigation system for a 1/4-acre lawn can use up to 1,200 gallons per cycle.

That's about 20,000 gallons a month, watering four days a week. Compare your lawn irrigation.

 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities - how to get water turned on in your name
     How do I get water turned on in my name?
     Can a family member or roommate call about the bill?
     What is the charge to get water turned on?
     When should I expect my first bill?
     Why is water off?
     How do I get my water back on?
     I'm moving.  How do I get water turned off?
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities - how to pay water bill online
     How do I pay my water bill?
     Where are the authorized payment locations?
     Where can I drop off my bill payment?
     Can I view my bill online
     What happens if I do not pay my bill?
     What is a Ccf?
     What is a fixed charge?
     What are the rates and fees?
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities - how to read water bill and usage
     How many days of water usage are on the bill?
     What happens if a water bill includes more than
     30 days of service?
     What is the charge on first water bill?
     How much water does a toilet or shower really use?
     Why does the same amount of water cost more now?
     What should I do if I believe that my bill is incorrect or 
     high?
     Could the meter equipment cause a high bill?
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities - how to check water meter


     Where is my water meter?
     How do I read my water meter?
     Where do my plumbing responsibilities begin?
     How many gallons can physically go through a meter?

Click here for questions / answers about irrigation, rate and rates

Have a question not listed? 
Please click here to ask us.





Water On or Off 

How do I get water turned on in my name?


CONTACT US BY TELEPHONE - (dial 311 or 704-336-7600) and provide
  1. Social Security Number, SSN (preferred); or
  2. Employer Tax Identification Number, EIN
    Note: (this is a business tax identification number, NOT an Individual Tax Identification
    Number (ITIN, W-7). Federal rules prohibit accepting ITIN for identity verification outside
    the tax system.


VISIT IN PERSON -

  • Adam Service Center, 4150 Wilkinson Boulevard, near Morris Field Drive (between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday) OR
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center (CMGC), 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, NC, 28202 (between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday).

Customer must provide one of the following:

  1. Social Security Number (preferred)
  2. Employer Tax Identification Number (EIN)
  3. Drivers license
  4. Government-issued identification (must include photo)
  5. A Notarized Identity Verification Form – for customers seeking to establish service who
    do not or cannot provide another acceptable form of identification. Form is available and
    would be accepted at Adam Service Center (also known as West Service Center at 4150 Wilkinson Boulevard) or Basement of the Hal Marshall Building (700 North Tryon Street) walk-in locations.

Our goal is to have water turned on within 24 to 48 hours.  A $32.00 charge will apply to all new service connections or account transfers.




Can a family member or roommate call about the bill?

Yes, you can add someone to your account so they can inquire about your bill. Call 311 or 704-336-7600.  The customer service representative will ask for your Social Security Number to verify that you are authorized to add someone to the account.

The primary account holder is financially responsible to pay the water bill.


What is the charge to get water turned on?

A $32.00 charge will apply to all new service connections or account transfers.


When should I expect my first bill?                                                                                  back to the top

Your first bill could be up to 60 days from the time water is turned on depending on when your bill is mailed during the billing cycle.

Residential customers will see a $32 new service fee (for Move-In) as part of this first bill. 

If it is a commercial account, a deposit is also charged.


Why is my water off?                                                                                                         back to the top

Several things can lead to losing water pressure or having a loss of service. Water pressure could be low due to construction in the area or a water pipe repair.  Call 311 for more information.  When contractors plan to temporarily turn water off to an area, they hang letters on front doors.  If this is the case, please call the phone number on the letter.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) can turn off water if a customer has not paid an overdue bill.  Prior to this termination, the customer will receive a disconnect notice on the last water bill.  If CMUD has an accurate phone number, you might receive an automated phone message advising your account is past due and in jeopardy of being disconnected.


How do I get my water back on?                                                                                       back to the top

If your water was turned off for nonpayment, you can click here to pay online (Western Union's Speedpay) or call 311 or 704-336-7600. 

Service will be restored after full payment of the past due amount and all delinquent fees. Our goal is to restart water service within 24 hours of payment (including the $58.00 delinquent fee) from Western Union, but some situations may take up to 48 hours to complete.  Pay now to start the turn on process.


I'm moving.  How do I get water turned off in my name?

Call 311 or 704-336-7600 and they will be able to close your account at the property and mail the final bill to your new address.  

Allow a minimum of three business days for water to be turned off at the location.


Payment 

How do I pay my water bill?
                                                                               back to the top

Please do not send cash payments through the mail.

You can pay your bill;

Can I view my bill online?                                                                                                back to the top

Yes you can click here to register with the new online portal and enroll in paperless billing. This will allow you to see bill online and schedule payments.  Or you can view and pay bill through most bank websites.  


How can I determine if my payment has been received?

Call 311 or 704-336-7600.  The customer service representative will ask for your Social Security Number to verify that you are authorized to receive the information.


What happens if I do not pay my bill?                                                                              back to the top

Not paying a water bill within 30 days leads to delinquency and disconnection. Past due balances are due immediately. 

If water is disconnected due to nonpayment, service will be restored after full payment of the past due amount and all delinquent fees ($58.00).

Payments for past due accounts are applied first to delinquent fees, second to storm water charges, and third to current water and/or sewer charges.

A late charge of 1.5% will be added to all past due charges.  A fee will be charged for each returned check in accordance with the North Carolina General Statute.



What is a Ccf?                                                                                                                      back to the top

A CCF (one hundred cubic feet) is a unit of measurement.  It is the way we measure how much water flowed through your meter.  One CCF equals 748 gallons.  


What is a fixed charge?                                     

All customers pay a fixed (administrative) charge for water service and for sewer service.  This offsets the cost to maintain the account and mail out monthly bills.  Details are available on Utilities Rates & Fees page.



How to read a meter






 

Where is my water meter?
                                                                                                   back to the top

Water meters are usually located near the front of the property near a driveway. 

meter faceMeter box, lid, meter, and transmitterMeter lidIn some cases, they are located in the alley. 

The meter is encased in a box with a plastic or metal lid.

If your meter lid is covered by grass or plants, please clear it so that the meter is accessible.
 

How do I read my water meter?

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD) receives water usage via a transmitter that is attached to the meter.

Consider wearing gloves before removing the lid.  There could be rain water or insects inside the meter box.

Open the meter lid slowly so that you do not damage the transmitter wire. 

The small dial is a low flow indicator.  If you are not using water inside or outside your home and this dial is moving, you may have a private water leak.

The large dial moves when enough water is being used to count as gallons or Ccfs. It reads similar to a car odometer.  The example photo reads as 567 Ccf.

Please close the meter lid and the meter box lid carefully without damaging the transmitter wire.


How many gallons can physically go through a meter?

Take a gallon container and count how many seconds it takes to fill it with water. 
Then count that up to how many gallons could be filled in a minute, hour, day, and month.
 
Example:
     1 gallon filled in 9 seconds = 6.67 gallons a minute (also depending on water pressure as well)
                                                = up to 400 gallons an hour 


Water Bill 

How many days of water usage are on the bill?
                                                                   back to the top

Typically, water bills are for 30 days of use, at which point a transmitter connected to the meter sends the current Ccf number to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utility Department (CMUD). The new number is subtracted by the previous month's number to get water usage. Water bills are printed and mailed to the customer roughly a week later. When you receive your bill, you would be paying for water used 30 to 60 days prior. The meter reading dates on the bill will reflect the dates of use for which you are billed.
meter
Example:

Water was used between September 14 through October 15.
The water meter was read on October 15 showing 567.04 Ccf.
The 567 number is subtracted by the previous month's number, 562.


  567.04
- 562.00
      5 Ccfs used


The water bill is mailed to the customer on October 28 for water used mid-September through mid-October.


What happens if a water bill includes more than 30 days of service?

Our goal is to read all 250,000+ meters within 28 - 33 days. If a meter read exceeds 33 days, the water bill may be averaged out to account for the extra days.

While this ‘long bill’ will possibly be higher than a normal 30-day bill due to the additional usage, all of the additional usage charges are not assessed at the highest tier price. Pre-billing software proportionally redistributes an individual’s water usage rate tiers in cases where days of service lasted 34 days or longer.

In cases where the days of service were beyond 33 days for one bill, the next bill should reflect fewer days of service, less water usage and lower water & sewer charges. Our goal is to bill consistently, at 28-33 days of service. In cases where billing was based on more than 33 days of service, Utilities ensures customers aren’t inappropriately charged for additional usage through adjustments made before the bill is mailed.


How much water does a toilet or shower really use?

This can depend significantly on the age of the toilet or showerhead.  Click here to see examples of how many gallons several types use.


What should I do if I believe that my bill is high or incorrect?

CMUD employees work with each customer who has a water bill concern. With the transition to automated meter reading in recent years, our billing accuracy has improved to more than ninety-nine percent (99%).

If your bill is higher than expected, here are a few possibilities to consider:


*  Check the meter reading dates. The usage billed would fall between those dates. Was a pool filled or other activities that may use more water than usual?

*  Compare usage to previous year using the 13-month water usage graph on water bill.

*  Irrigation significantly impacts water bills.  Was there a change in irrigation / watering (seeding)? Learn how many gallons are used watering lawns.

*  Check low flow indicator on water meter.

*  Check plumbing for leaks under sinks, running toilets or constant wet spots between your water meter and home. 
           + Take part in our home home water use audit.
           + Did a plumber fix something between the billing dates?
           + Did usage return to normal when the irrigation system was winterized? 
           + Learn how to look for leaks on plumbing or irrigation system

*  Water use is divided into "tiers" so as usage increases, rates increase as well. These tiers encourage water efficiency, provide reasonable rates for essential water uses and give customers more control over their bill.

*  A change in rates. Utilities typically adjusts rates each year on July. How do Charlotte-Mecklenburg rates compare to others?

*  Review the storm water fees. Because storm water fees are billed on the water and sewer bill for efficiency, be sure to separate water/sewer charges from storm water fees when reviewing past water usage.what a water meter looks like


Please call 311 or 704-336-7600 if there are any questions about a bill. 

A customer service representative will ask for your Social Security Number to verify that you are authorized to receive the information.  The representative will review past water bills and discuss possible causes and temporary steps while a high bill inspection is conducted.

Meter inspections can take several weeks depending on customer demand. Utilities sees an increase in high water bill inspections / meter checks during the fall and spring when lawn watering increases.



What happens during an on-site meter inspection? 

A meter inspector will visit the location and:

     + Once on-site, inform customer that you are on-site to perform inspection. Knock on door to inform 
        customer why you are there.
     + Confirm meter and transponder number matches customer's account
     + Confirm register size matches meter size
     + Perform inspection in the meter box:        
     + Is low-flow indicator turning?
     + Is there water in the box? If yes, does it impact the bill?
     + Take visual reading on register
     + Use handheld to confirm transponder reading matches register reading
     + Flow water through meter
     + Take visual reading on register
     + Use handheld to confirm transponder reading matches register reading
     + Complete door tag with results. Provide customer with appropriate leave-behind letter.  
     + Notify customer of the results in person, if possible. If customer is not home, call customer with number 
        provided before you leave site.



What if the on-site inspection doesn't find a meter equipment problem?                        back to the top

*  Consider hiring a licensed plumber with leak detection equipment if your low flow indicator is 
    running when you're not using water.  Click here for tips.

*  Test of irrigation system to see how much water it is using each cycle. 

*  Discuss additional steps with a customer service representative.

*
  Fill out a home water use audit to see what could be leaking or using water.


I don't want to pay a bill I think is incorrect. What should I do?

Be sure to call 311 or 704-336-7600 to request a high bill inspection.

Payment plans are available. CMUD does not require full payment of a disputed bill until completion of the high bill investigation.  High bill inspections may take more than one month to complete.

Customers are required to pay their average bill amount to keep in good standing during the inspection process.

Customers who opt to forego payments while waiting for our investigation or without calling to request one are in danger of delinquency and disconnection.

As part of our continuing improvements, customers can be considered for a one-time adjustment after:
  • A review of water usage history
  • A completed high bill inspection by Utilities
  • Supervisor review of inspection and usage history
  • High usage period is a one-time occurrence that is uncharacteristic of the customer’s past usage, and
  • Water usage drops back normal range for customer.
Additional details are available at www.municode.com (select Municode Library, North Carolina, Charlotte, Charlotte Code of Ordinances, Chapter 23)


Why does the same amount of water cost more now?

Rates are adjusted in July so using the same amount of water twelve months ago may cost more now.

Below are some water / sewer bill examples of usage in previous years:
  • 10 Ccf (7,480 gallons) in Fiscal Year 2012: $71.33
  • 10 Ccf (7,480 gallons) in Fiscal Year 2011: $65.64       
  • 10 Ccf (7,480 gallons) in Fiscal Year 2010: $61.34      
  • 10 Ccf (7,480 gallons) in Fiscal Year 2009: $58.28
  • 10 Ccf (7,480 gallons) in Fiscal Year 2008: $58.68
    Details are available on Utilities Rates & Fees page.

Could the meter equipment cause a high bill?                                                           back to the top

The 250,000 bills sent out monthly are more than 99% accurate, but errors can occur.

Meters are tested for accuracy before they are installed. Meters themselves are mechanical devices that slow down or under-report usage as they wear down with age. Utilities replaces meters about every 15 years.

The transmitters attached to meters that send the data to CMUD also have high accuracy rates but can fail to transmit data or can send erroneous readings occasionally. Checking the accuracy of your meter and transmitter is part of our high bill inspection. If the error is on CMUD side, it will be fixed and the account will be adjusted accordingly.


What is the charge on my first water bill?                                                                   back to the top

A $32 fee is part of the first water bill for 'Move-In' requests and to set up the account.

Review Starting / Water Turn-On date.  It could be that the days of service may be more than 30 days.

Commercial accounts are charged a deposit based on type of business.


What if I am irrigating from a lake pump or well?

Is the irrigation system connected to the pump system / well or the residential water meter?  Contact the person who installed or maintains the irrigation system for more information.