Summer Water Use
During summer months, we receive more calls and questions about high water bills. Because a number of factors impact your bill, we want to provide information about water use, rates, meter reading and ways you can save this year. We also want to share the steps we're taking to audit and confirm the accuracy of the City of Allen's billing operations.
Taking control of your water use
An important way you can take control of your water use is by learning how your irrigation controller works. In many cases of high water use, improper controller programming—including "ghost" or unsuspected second or third watering cycles—is the culprit. Learn how to take control of your sprinkler system.
We provide free classes, digital guides, monthly newsletters and video tutorials to help Allen water customers save water.
- Ways to Save
- Sustainable Landscape Series videos
- Monthly Water Conservation newsletter
- Educational Programs and Events
Summer water use always increases due to landscape watering
During the summer, up to 60% of water used in Allen comes from residential irrigation systems. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average family’s water in the United States use is 320 gallons per day. During the summer months, the national average increases to 1,000 gallons per day.
Water use spikes during the summer months mainly due to landscape watering. The EPA estimates that 50% of outdoor water use is wasted, in part due to overwatering. Learn how to save water in your yard this summer.
Why does irrigation increase during the summer?The amount of water used during the summer can be directly linked to average temperatures, average rainfall and the speed at which water evaporates due to other factors, such as wind or humidity. These factors lead to watering increases, especially for homeowners with SMART sprinkler controllers. Learn more.
Water rates changed November 1, 2019
Even if you use the same amount of water as last year, this summer's bills will be higher due to water rate increases which took effect November 1. Our water provider, North Texas Municipal Water District, advised member cities in 2017 of annual wholesale water rate increases that would occur over the next several years. These increases will fund projects necessary to keep up with population growth, replace aging infrastructure and follow new regulations. Find out more about the true cost of water on the NTMWD website.
Do I pay higher rates if I use more water?
Water is billed using tiered rates to encourage water conservation. When water use exceeds designated amounts, that water is billed at a higher rate. The City of Allen has four tiers of water rates. Water billed at higher rates is itemized on your bill. View current rate tiers.
Your monthly bill includes charges for water used 4-6 weeks ago
When you open your most recent water bill, you won't see an impact from watering habits you recently changed or started. These charges reflect water used up to 4-6 weeks earlier, during the dates listed on your bill. That’s why it’s so important to check your irrigation system for leaks and your system controller for programming issues and errors early in the season. These are the primary causes for unexpected high water use.
Meters are read every month and tested upon request
Our meter reading technicians read each meter every month, even if you are enrolled in our bill averaging program. Readings are gathered using a handheld wand, which transmits the digital reading from your meter to the device's memory chip. Your previous reading is subtracted from your current reading; you are billed for the difference. With this meter reading process and data collection, the City is currently unable to determine how the water is used or the specific cause (days/times) of high water usage.
What if I think my meter is wrong?
If you think your meter is reading incorrectly, give us a call at 214.509.4500 and we will remove the meter and test it for $25 fee. If your meter is not reading correctly, we will waive the fee. Because meters tend to run slower or even stop reading as they age, only a minuscule number of meters have been found to incorrectly report higher than actual usage.
Doing our part: Allen water audit
As a result of citizen's concern about high water bills in 2019, Allen City Council authorized an audit of billing practices and equipment. The audit will focus on the meter reading process, metering equipment and utility billing process. It will also include a data analysis of other factors which impact water use such as temperature, rainfall and water leaks. The audit will examine data from January 1-December 31, 2019.
The internal audit will follow best practices outlined by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Texas Water Development Board (TWBD). Two hundred accounts will be sampled during the audit process. This number is two to four times higher than the number identified as a “sufficient sample” by AWWA and TWBD. The auditor will have access to some historic account data, including leak detection requests, as part of the comprehensive review.
Meters removed for testing have been replaced with a new meter and a door hanger notification with additional information. These meters are currently at a certified third-party laboratory for testing to ensure accuracy.
When will results be made public?
Results of the audit will be made available to Allen City Council and members of the public later this summer.