1. In my water bill (in U.S.), there are two charges, one for water consumption and the other for sewer consumption. I was wondering what the difference between water and sewer is?
  2. This month, our water and sewer have the same amount of consumption. I was wondering if their consumptions are supposed to be the same generally?
  3. Is the water from bathroom sink or bathtub supposed to be drinkable? If further after being boiled, is the water from bathroom sink or bathtub safe for drinking?

3 Answers 3

  1. Water is the amount of water coming into your house. Sewer is (usually) the portion of it that you use inside the house and that goes out through your drains, toilets, etc. See #2 below. Sewer charges may also include a portion for storm water if your downspouts feed into a municipal sewer system.

  2. During the summer, it's expected that some of the water will be used for watering your yard, so your sewer usage will be less than your water usage. During winter, the two should be very similar.

  3. In general, water in bathroom fixtures should be safe to drink, boiled or not; there's only one water main coming to your house, after all. You may have additional filters on the water lines going to the kitchen faucets, which would make that water taste better (by removing chlorine, say).

  • 3
    Are there any jurisdictions that actually bill less during the summer? Most sewer bills are based on water consumption, since the sewer lines themselves are not metered. I can't imagine any municipalities actually asking for less money because they assume everyone is watering their lawn by a certain amount..
    – gregmac
    Mar 28, 2011 at 4:55
  • 3
    however, don't assume that EVERY spigot outside the house provides potable water. i live in florida, and i have 1 spigot (painted red) that provides reclaimed water for lawn watering, car washing, and other non-drinking tasks.
    – longneck
    Mar 28, 2011 at 13:38
  • 1
    @gregmac-I used to work at a utility and there was no adjustment during the summer for water that doesn't enter the sewer collection system. Customers could pay for an irrigation meter to be installed and that amount would be deducted from the sewer amount. A similar meter is put on rain water cisterns because that water enters the sewer collection system but doesn't doesn't originate from the water dist. system. I'm not sure who paid for those meters...customer or utility (there was only 2 and they belonged to schools). Apr 24, 2011 at 17:07
  • @gregmac, the way my water line is setup, the main comes in the house, there is a branch that goes to all the outside hookups and a branch that goes to all the inside connections. The meter sits after the branch for the outside. So I don't get charged for those.
    – mikeazo
    Mar 2, 2017 at 13:02

My county has the option to have a deduct meter installed on your irrigation system, so the amount of water used for irrigation is not charged on the sewage.

They used to automatically deduct a portion of the sewage for water used during the summer that exceeds the average of the three winter months. They have discontinued that program.

So to answer question 2, it is possible in some locations to have a different amount of consumption depending on the rules of the water and sewage municipality.

  • I believe you mean "so the amount of water used for irrigation is not charged on the sewage". This is the only reason I've seen for the separate bill myself, but I could also imagine pools and other outdoor watering cases.
    – BMitch
    Mar 30, 2011 at 17:13
  • That's right @BMitch In some places, like here, it is cheaper to have water trucked in to fill the pool than it is to pay the sewage charge on the water.
    – Trevor_G
    Mar 1, 2017 at 19:57

Despite what folks think, water charges are not based on the price of water, and only loosely based on consumption.

Water prices are based on the annual infrastructure cost to maintain the water supply AND waste management systems divided by the predicted total annual water usage.

What you get charged for supply vs sewage is fairly simple math based on the municipalities relative costs for each of the above. The portion YOU pay vs. your neighbor is calculated from the water meter reading.

It is a VERY common occurrence in districts where you are asked to conserve water for reasons such as contamination, or drought, for the water rates to GO UP so you end up paying the same amount. Why? Because it costs the city pretty much the same amount to maintain the services regardless of usage.

Now if we could only figure out how to make them bring it down again after....

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