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Water and Sewer Bills

Frequently Asked Questions

Small Properties

Commercial, industrial, mixed use and multi-family residential property

Online Bill Payment

Where does my water come from?

New York City’s water comes from nineteen reservoirs, three controlled lakes and hundreds of miles of aqueducts, which stretch from the Catskill Mountains down to Westchester County. This system consists of the Croton, Catskill and Delaware Watershed systems and a ground-water supply, the Jamaica Wells, in the Borough of Queens. The Croton System storage is 94.5 billion gallons. It can transfer up to 90 million gallons a day to the Delaware System via two hydraulic pumping stations, which are only activated during drought conditions. In addition, 100 million gallons a day can be transferred from the Catskill System to the Croton System if there are problems in the Croton Reservoir. The Catskill System has a storage capacity of 140.5 billion gallons and normally supplies 40% of the daily demand. The Delaware System is NYC’s newest and largest, with a storage capacity of 320.4 billion gallons.

How is DEP involved with water and sewer services?

The Department of Environmental Protection is charged with providing to the residents of the City of New York clean and safe water and the appropriate and safe management and disposal of wastewater. Additionally, DEP protects and maintains the water supply system, the water delivery system, the sewer system, the wastewater treatment plants and disposing of the product of those plants.

DEP is responsible for reading water meters, charging and collecting fees related to water and sewer usage from property owners in New York City and surrounding communities, monitoring and controlling who connects to the water and sewer systems, ensuring the safety of the system.

Aren’t water and sewer bills taken care of by my mortgage company?

For small properties (under 5-family buildings), most Mortgage companies will no longer take care of these charges. This is primarily due to a City requirement that all small properties be metered and billed on metered consumption, not a ‘once a year’ flat-rate bill. To understand the difference between these two types of billing, see When Do I Get a Bill?.

What types of water and sewer bills are issued?

Most small property in NYC is now billed on metered usage as measured by the water meter in your property. Water meters are generally read once every three months and a bill is usually issued 4 to 8 days later. There are some properties that are still billed annually (once a year on July 1st). These are called ‘Fiscal Bills’ and DEP calls this method of billing ‘frontage’. If you are a one, two or three family private home, you are most likely billed on the metered usage.

What is on my bill?

Your water and sewer bill contains several important pieces of information. At the top are boxes that contain the following:

Your account number (13 numbers)

The date the bill was issued

The date the bill is due

The amount of the bill, and

A place to enter the amount you are submitting for payment

Immediately under the boxes is the mailing information that displays your name or mailing information as displayed on the account.

What part of the bill is important?

The middle portion of the bill shows the detail information pertaining to what you are being billed for. For instance:

If the bill is dated July 1, it is most likely a Fiscal Bill, which is issued only once a year and is based upon your properties physical features and the number of ‘water using’ fixtures. These would be listed in order and show the type of feature/fixture, how many of them, the time period covered and at the far right, the water charge for that feature/fixture and immediately under the water charge, is listed the sewer charge.

If the bill is not dated July 1, it is most likely a meter based billing that uses the consumption recorded on the meter since the last billing to calculate the amount due. This type of bill will first list the meter number, then it will list the date of the last reading, then the date of the most recent reading. It will show you the number of days in that period. It will show the ‘type’ of meter reading the bill is based upon (see Estimated Bills). It will show the readings, the one the calculation is starting with and the ‘end’ reading. At the right it will show the consumption in ‘cubic feet’ for the time period. Further to the right it will show the consumption rounded up to ‘100 cubic foot units’, which is how the bill is calculated.

On the right edge of the bill, approximately in the middle of the page, near the billing and meter information, will appear the dollar charge for water and immediately under it will be the sewer charge. The total amount will be displayed below with the words ‘Pay this Amount’. This amount should match the amount shown in the box at the top of the bill page.

Other important information:

The top of the bill has the return address which is below, this address should show through the window on the envelope.

NYC Water Board
P.O. Box 11863
Newark, NJ 07101-8163

On the right side, under the amount due, is the address where you should send written inquiries if you have questions about your bill, how it is calculated, requests for forms, general information.

Why are we required to have water meters?

In 1985 Local Law 53 was passed which required all new construction and all substantially renovated properties to install water meters as part of a major conservation effort. In 1987, the City Council approved a plan called ‘Universal Metering’ which over a ten year period, required DEP to install or cause to be installed, water meters in every property within the City. This was also part of the same major conservation program.

Metering was a critical part of conserving the City’s water supply, allowing it to remain healthy and able to supply the growing population.

Who is responsible for the water meter?

For most small properties in New York City, DEP is responsible for the initial installation, replacement and repair of the meter. There are some occasions where the property owner may be responsible – and all newly constructed or renovated properties must install water meters at their own expense.

Property owners, however, are responsible for protecting the water meter, ensuring it is not damaged by freezing or negligence.

Property owners may also be responsible for replacement of the meter if it is illegally removed.

Where is my water meter?

Water meters are required to be installed on a property’s water supply line very near where it enters the building. Some water lines come into a property underground, which requires the water meter be installed in a pit, which may be indoors, in a basement, under a sub-floor, in a garage or outdoors in a yard. Where an outdoor pit is required, it must be insulated to protect the meter in winter.

How can I check my water meter?

Water meters are mechanical devices and most work in a similar manner. They have a measurement device in an ‘inner chamber’ that is calibrated to record the amount of water that goes through the meter. Most meters in one, two and three family homes record water in tenths of cubic feet. A cubic foot of water is approximately equivalent to 7 ½ gallons of water. (You could actually use a five gallon bucket and measure it filled one and one half times, which would be roughly equal to a cubic foot.)

If you question your bills and feel that your meter is recording incorrectly, you may request a ‘meter accuracy test’ be performed on your meter. This test is not free and the service fee of $180.00 must be paid before a meter test appointment can be arranged. Please call our Customer Call Center at 718-595-7000 during business hours and speak to a Customer Service Representative for more information about the service.

How can I get a water meter installed in my property?

All properties were offered an opportunity to have DEP install a water meter up to July 1, 2000. After that date, most property without a meter was required to install a meter at their expense. There are some circumstances that affect these rules so property owners without a meter should consult with the DEP Customer Services before taking any action.

What is Automated Meter Reading (AMR)?

Automated Meter Reading (AMR) is an important improvement in DEP’s comprehensive transformation of its Bureau of Customer Service. AMR systems consist of small, low-power radio transmitters connected to individual water meters that send water meter readings to a network of rooftop receivers throughout the city. These receivers will provide DEP with all relevant billing information and eliminate the need for meter readers to visit your property. Customers can also track their consumption online up to four times each day at DEP’s AMR website.  Learn more about DEP’s AMR program.

How do I read my water meter?

All water meters approved for use by DEP read much like a car odometer. To learn how to read your meter properly, read How to Read a Water Meter (PDF).

Who do I speak to about water and sewer bills?

If you have a question about a bill you have, DEP operates a Customer Call Center which can be reached at 718-595-7000, Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm and Saturday, 9am to 2pm.

You may choose to visit a borough office open weekdays from 9AM to 5PM.

How are water rates determined?

Like water utilities around the country, DEP’s budget is funded by revenue it collects through water and sewer rates. The New York City Water Board is responsible for setting these rates, and must ensure that they are able to fund the entirety of DEP’s operating and capital needs. This includes salaries and benefits for DEP’s more than 6,000 employees, as well as major initiatives like the ongoing construction of Water Tunnel No. 3, the construction of a filtration plant for the City’s Croton system and significant upgrades and repairs to treatment plants, sewers and other water infrastructure, all of which enable DEP to provide clean, safe water to New Yorkers for decades to come and ensure that the health of the City’s waterways continues to improve.

Though water rates must satisfy the capital and operating needs of New York City’s water and sewer system, the Water Board also strives to set rates that are equitable and fair, that encourage conservation, and that are understandable to the City’s water and sewer customers. Before any rate increase is adopted, the Water Board solicits public comment through hearings held in each borough.

How do I get a bill?

If you are not receiving a bill every quarter and you know you have a water meter, contact DEP’s Customer Call Center at 718-595-7000 (Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm and Saturday, 9am to 2pm) and speak to a Customer Service Representative. An inspection by our field staff may be necessary. If you wish, you may also proceed to our Customer Registration Form which you may complete on line, print, sign and mail to the Bureau of Customer Services at:

DEP, Bureau of Customer Services
Attention: Mail Services, 7th floor
59-17 Junction Boulevard
Flushing, New York 11373

You may also write to DEP at the above address. Please provide daytime contact phone numbers with all forms or correspondence submitted to DEP.

When do I get a bill?

Small property should have a water meter which is read and billed every three months, (quarterly). ConEdison meter readers read DEP water meters from the remote reading device that is normally affixed to the front outside wall of your building. You should receive a bill approximately every 3 months. If you are receiving metered consumption bills and more than 3 months has passed without one, please call the Customer Service Call Center at 718-595-7000.

If you are receiving a bill only once yearly in May and your bill date is July 1, then you are receiving a ‘fiscal bill’ or ‘annual’ bill, which covers the upcoming fiscal year and it is not based upon metered consumption. (You may not have a water meter, or you may have one and DEP was not advised that one was installed. In either situation, contact DEP at 718-595-7000 and speak to a Customer Service Representative.)

Why did I get an estimated bill?

An estimated bill may be issued if the meter reader cannot obtain a meter reading from the remote device or meter. If the reading obtained does not match or fall in line with the history of readings on the account, the billing system will reject the reading and issue an estimate based upon an average of previous bills. If this occurs once or even twice, you can easily verify the estimated reading on your bill against the reading on your meter. (For instructions about reading your own meter, click here). If the meter reader is unable to get an actual meter reading for several successive billing cycles, a DEP Water Inspector may visit your property to try and check on the condition of the remote device and the meter. If you are not home when we visit, our inspectors may leave a card or notice asking you to contact us directly.

What do I do if my bill is estimated?

The Water Board is authorized to issue estimated bills when reliable reading information is not available. Receiving an estimated bill is not justification for avoiding payment as the Water Board considers estimated charges as valid bills if they are based upon good historical consumption information. Do not let consecutive estimates continue longer than three sequential bills without contacting the Bureau at the above number or locations.

Under certain circumstances, estimated bills may be necessary and are considered valid bills that must be paid. If a water meter breaks and stops recording water consumption, the Water Board has authorized the DEP to issue estimated bills, (based upon historical information), and they are considered valid ‘liens’ until paid in full.

When the meter is repaired or replaced, actual meter reading bills will commence again.

If the charges on the new meter are significantly different than the estimated bills you received, you should speak to a Customer Service Representative at 718-595-7000 to discuss your bill.

My bill says “Estimated”, what do I do next?

If your bill says ‘Estimated’ in the field marked ‘Read Type’, (see an image of a bill), look at the date of the estimated read and what numeric figure is listed as the ‘reading index’. Compare that number to what is displayed on the top of the register head of the meter, (click here for image of meter head). Remember that the bill will not show ‘zero’s or blank spaces’ on the left of the reading index but the meter may have them.

If the index number (meter reading) on the bill is very similar to the number on the meter (the index number on the meter will most likely be a higher number by the time you receive the bill), then the bill is considered valid and should be paid as you would a normal meter bill with an actual meter reading.

What do I need to know?

Commercial, industrial and many mixed-use properties have been required by law to have water meters. The meters in large properties may occasionally be large meters and some types may have two dials, not just one.

How am I charged for water and sewer services?

All commercial and industrial property within New York City should be metered according to Local Law 53 of 1985. This rule states:

ALL new construction, regardless of type, residential, mixed use and commercial, must be metered and billed based upon metered consumption from the start of construction.

All commercial space inside a residential building must be metered and billed upon metered consumption, which means space containing a business, office or other retail or commercial entity must have a water meter measuring the water that supplies this space.

Customer Assistance

The Water Board offers some customer assistance programs that may help reduce your bill. A brief description of the programs are below:

Leak & Waste Forgiveness Program – This program is offered to customers who meet qualifications set in the Water Board Rate Schedule. The program is only available through a written application sent to the Customer Services mailing address on your bill. If you receive a vary large water and sewer bill, and it was due to an extraordinary leak on your property that was not in a fixture like a toilet, a sink, a tub, a garden hose, etc… and it required you obtain the services of a licensed plumber to do the repair, the program compares the high bill to other normal bills from matching time periods and if it meets certain guidelines, you may be able to receive a reduction in the charges. (NOTE: the charges on the high bill will never be reduced more than half of their original issue value.)

Four Year Billing Limitation – The Water Board has a ‘self-imposed’ limitation on its ability to upwardly adjust bills that were originally issued at a lower amount. This just restricts the Water Board from increasing the size of an existing bill that was issued more than four years in the past. If you have never received a bill for water and sewer services, you are liable for four retroactive years of charges. NOTE: If a ‘Title Meter Reading’ is not requested and completed at least 30 days prior to you taking ownership at the closing, you are not protected from un-issued charges that may date back to consumption of the prior owner, if the Bureau discovers those earlier charges were too low.

The four year rule is not a limitation on how much you may be responsible for if you have extended unpaid charges. Bills issued by the NYC Water Board that are based upon actual consumption, using actual readings and data from a functioning meter, are valid and considered a ‘lien’ against your property until they are paid in full.

How long will it take for my payment to be posted?

Your payment will take a minimum of two (2) to three (3) business days to process.

Is there a service charge?

There is no service charge for making payments by electronic funds transfer (EFT). Your payment is automatically routed by electronic funds transfer from your bank. Credit and debit cards will incur a fee.

Where can I see my payment history?

At the moment, you can not view past account history through DEP’s water bill payment service other than your most recent bill. You can view your account history through the NYCServ ePayment Center.

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