Water and Sewer Billing FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Water Usage…

Where does our drinking water come from?

The water purchased for the City of Hazel Park comes from the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) formally known as Detroit Water and Sewer (DWSD).
GLWA provides water for just about all Southeast Oakland County.  Some customers besides Hazel Park are neighboring cities like;  Ferndale, Madison Heights, Warren, Sterling Heights, Troy, Berkley, Huntington Woods…etc.
Water purchased for Hazel Park is of the highest quality and is abundant to meet water demands of the city and its residents.  The water is safe does not contain Lead.  Constant sampling is performed on the water to meet Federal & State Standards for Safe Drinking Water.

How does the water get to my house?
Water is transmitted through large water main pipes located underground throughout the entire city to reach every customer.  Each address has its own private line that brings water into home or business.

How does the sewage leave my house?
Wastewater or sewer water is removed by the home’s private sewer line that takes water into the city’s sanitary sewer mains.  This water is taken to a GLWA treatment plant for disposal.

How does storm water from rain or melting snow get removed from the city?
Rain or melting snow that runs off property enters drains in the street.  Some of this water is taken directly to Lake St. Clair and other drains go to a GLWA treatment plant for disposal.

How does the city know how much water I use?
Every address has a water meter.  Water meters vary in size to meet the demands of the home or business.  Water meters count water as it is drawn through the meter by users at the address the meter serves. 
Water meters only will count water that has flowed through the meter, very similar to a car’s mileage odometer…if you do not drive the car, it is not counting miles.  This is the same for the water meter, if water is not being used or the address has no leaks…the meter is not counting water.  All cities charge a base fee for minimum water and sewer service that is made available to an address whether water is used or not.
The average person uses anywhere from 80-100 gallons of water per day, depending on needs.  Some things that can have usage vary is how many people live or work at the location, age of appliances, how much water is used for cooking, cleaning, and irrigation.  These are some of the variables that can cause a difference between your water bill versus your neighbor’s water bill.

How does the city create rates for water & sewer usage?
The City is a customer of GLWA.  GLWA sets rates based on usage, each city that is a GLWA customer will establish water rates based on the GLWA information.  GLWA rates vary from city to city for a large variety of reasons, this why each city has different water rates.  For each gallon of water there is one gallon of sewage billed as well.  Billing is 1 to 1 ratio.  A sewage rate is always slightly higher than a water rate due to the process of handling sewage.

How often do I receive a bill and what does the bill look like?
Water Customers will be sent a water bill monthly.  Generally, you should receive a water bill the first week of the month.  The billing due date may vary each month due to weekends and holidays when the city would be closed.
Water bills received are for the previous month’s usage.  When a customer receives a bill in August, it will be the billing of the July water usage.
Note:  Should your bill have an active balance from previous billings, that will appear on the bill as well.  Previous unpaid balances will continue to compound on a bill.

For Example: 
If your billing usage for the month of July is 3 units, the total cost is $ 38.28.
However, if you have a remaining balance for unpaid previous bills that cost will compound on the balance.  So, if you did not pay your June bill that was of 2 units usage, your bill for the July balance will be for $ 63.80 because it is including the amount past due for June.
Look carefully at your bill, in the center it will tell you if a previous balance is still owed.
Paying your bill in full will keep the water bill from compounding month to month.
Due dates can vary because the city cannot have bill due on days we are closed (Fri, Sat, Sun & Holidays).

How does the water bill look?
The water bill is a postcard with a perforated edge to separate and submit the stub for payment.
The general water bill postcard is BLUE.  It will contain all the information of water usage and what you are being billed.  Past due balances will be listed on the bill.  On the back of the bill are codes and other information for customers.
A Shut-Off bill postcard is RED.  Customers will receive this red postcard if the account is past due for payments.  It will have a date of when the bill was due and when it will be shut-off.
How to Read the Your Water Bill

Why do water and sewer rates change every year?
Like just about any other commodity, there are cost adjustments every year.  The supplier (GLWA) sets the rates for each city and these cost increases or savings are passed onto the customer.  Water and sewer are based on a 1 to 1 ratio.  Cost of one gallon of water plus one gallon of sewage makes the rates.
Rate changes are applied every July 1 for the fiscal year.  Because you are billed monthly for water used in previous month, customers will not see the rate changes until the bill is received in August.

How is water billed & what is the cost?
The city bills water by usage called “units”.  A unit is 100 cubic feet of water or 748 gallons of water.  The 2020 cost for a water and sewer minimum bill (2 units or 1496 gallons) is $ 25.66.

2021 Residential Rates:                 Water = $ 6.04                   Sewer = $ 6.72      Totaling $ 12.76 per unit. (x2 = $ 25.52)

2021 Commercial Rates:               Same W/S + Service Fee of $ 15.70 & and Pollution Surcharge.   

 A minimum bill is charged whether the water is on or off every month.
For Residential the minimum bill is $ 25.52.  Should you use more than two units, you are charged an additional $ 12.76 for each unit used beyond the minimum bill.  Same process for Commercial accounts.
For Commercial the minimum bill is $ 41.22.  There is also a Pollution Surcharge (IWC) on the billing, this is determined by water meter size.
It is possible to receive an “Estimated Water Bill”, this will be listed on the bill.  Please call the Water Department if you receive estimated bills.  The metering equipment may need to be repaired.
Since the inception of Monthly Billing, the City of Hazel Park does not offer payment plans.  The city may work with customers who have received a high-water bill due to an unfortunate plumbing incident (broken pipes, hot water tank failure…etc.).

 Let’s compare…using residential rates

1 gallon of water from the local store may be as low as $ 0.90 per gallon.

1 gallon of water from the city is a low as $ 0.008 per gallon.

Since the average person’s estimate of daily water use is 80-100 gallons per day for cooking, cleaning, and irrigation…let’s use the 100 gallon per day ratio.

Gallon purchases from the store ($ 0.90 per gallon x 100 gallons) would be about $ 90.00 per day.  30 days of a month would 3000 gallons and would cost about $ 2700.00 monthly.  This cost is only for the water, the store does not sell sewage disposal.

That same ratio of 30 days from the city is equal to 4 units of water or 3000 gallons, would cost about $ 51.04.  This cost covers both water and sewage.  As savings over $ 2600.00.

How do I pay a water bill?
Payment of a water bill can be done several ways.  U.S. Mail, Dropbox outside City Hall, Online, by Phone, or in person at city hall.  You may pay by check, credit or debit card, cash, or money order.
Please Note: there is a charge for paying by credit card or debit card, this is not absorbed by the city.
The city will charge penalty fees for late payments, so please watch your bills due dates.

What if I am not receiving a water bill?
This is a common question the water department receives.  The city mails a postcard style bill via the US Postal Service.  Postcards are hand delivered to the Post Office each month and charged for postage accordingly.
If you are NOT receiving a water bill, you may need to lodge a complaint with US Post Office…since you are not receiving mail.  The city does not get involved with individual address postal complaints.
You may call the Water Department to see if for any reason the billing is being sent to a different address.  This is a common practice for rental properties.  If you are a renter, please check your lease for who is to receive the billing  and have the landlord correct this issue.  This water department does not get involved with landlord/tenant disputes.

How do I get my account balance due for payment if I did not get a bill?
Anyone can go onto the city’s website and view their billing records or call the city to get your amount due because even if you don’t get a bill, you are required to pay for your water usage.  Penalties are not waived because you did not get a bill.

What if I have a high-water bill?
High water bills can be shocking to anyone.  Why is the bill high?
Many factors can contribute to this;
The water bill is not being paid in full each month and the bill is compounding.
The habits of water usage in a home may have changed…
-visitors from out of town…
-more permanent family at home (ex. college students’ home for break)…
-seasonal changes (gardening, swimming pools, lawn irrigation, washing cars)…
-old appliances or fixtures (sinks, bathtubs, spigots) not shutting down properly…

**AND…this Biggest Culprit…TOILETS.  Toilets have a tank that fills when it flushed, and all water should stop when tank has refilled.  Those part need to be checked to see if they are operating properly.  Items to check; 
*Sound, do you hear water movement in the toilet, something needs fixing.
*If you need to “jiggle the handle” you need to fix the toilet, it is running when not being used. 
*The fill pipe inside needs to not have water overflowing into it. 
*You may not hear the water leaking and it may not happen every time…inspect your toilets if you notice the bill is increasing.  These parts are very cheap to replace.
*There are good videos online to show homeowners how to check their home for leaks.
Calculations of Leaks

 The city can assist with checking the home for leaks, however, the short visit the city has may not necessarily find the leak.  It is your home and your plumbing only.

The city may work with customers who have received a high-water bill due to an unfortunate plumbing incident (broken pipes, hot water tank failure…etc.) by offering a payment plan.  The city cannot waive any of the amount owing.

 You can look at your water meter to see if you may have a leak.  The face of the water meter has an odometer and red leak detection needle or triangle.  If no one is using water in the home and any parts are moving…the home has a leak happening and you’ll need to inspect your home. How to Read Your Water Meter


Hazel Park Drain System

Click below to learn:
How the city’s storm sewers work

Protect Your Home’s Sewer
There has been much development of products in recent years that call the product “flushable”.
Though the package may say “flushable” it does not mean it is going to properly breakdown in water.
Many things can be considered flushable; toy cars, a sock, newspaper,…etc, doesn’t mean you would send them down your sewer.

Your home’s sewer was designed for a specific use and capacity.

Flushing more and more items that cannot breakdown in water will eventually clog sewers, which is the last thing you want to deal with.  Properly dispose those items in the trash.

General Rule:
“If it does not dissolve in water, do not flush it down - throw it in the trash.”

The photo below is of a “flushable” we set in this glass jar of water on March 9, 2021.  We presented this example at the city council meeting to show how a “flushable” does not dissolve in water.  Well, its July 26, 2021 and it still has not dissolved.

Flushable - submegered in jar of water on March 9, 2021…as of July 26, 2021 (4 mos +), it still has not dissolved.


How to Read the Your Water Bill

How to Read Your Water Meter

Calculations of Leaks

How to Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

How the city’s storm sewers work