Third-Tier Water Rates

Peak residential water rates are in effect from May 16 through September 15 each year. Peak rates incorporate a three-tiered rate structure with progressively higher rates as water consumption increases. Third-tier water rates are included in this rate structure.

Effective January 1, 2019

Water UsageInside SeattleOutside SeattleShoreline & Lake Forest Park*
Off-Peak Usage (Sept. 16 – May 15) $5.27 $6.01 $6.39
Peak Usage (May 16 – Sept. 15)
First-Tier: Up to 10 CCF in 60 days $5.41 $6.17 $6.56
Second-Tier: Next 26 CCF in 60 days $6.69 $7.63 $8.11
Third-Tier: Over 36 CCF in 60 days $11.80 $13.45 $14.31

* These rates apply to the Cities of Shoreline and Lake Forest Park, not the water districts.

Note: One ccf equals 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons of water.

Historically, roughly one out of ten residential customers have some consumption at the third-tier level. Third-tier water rates affect single-family residential (SFR) and duplex customers who use more than 36 CCF for a 60-day billing period (or more than 18 CCF for a 30-day billing period). (The thresholds for a duplex are double the SFR level.)

Low income assistance

Eligible low income customers can receive a 50% credit on their bill. For more information, please see Payment Assistance.

Higher summer rates

Although Seattle generally has plenty of water in the winter, we have less precipitation during the summer when demand is highest. During the summer, we depend on water stored in our mountain reservoirs to meet customer demand while leaving enough water in the rivers for fish. Higher summer water rates encourage customers to use water wisely.

Water conservation

From May through September water use in our region increases 35 to 45 percent, primarily to irrigate lawns and gardens. Experts estimate that 30 percent or more of this water goes to waste, due to evaporation, runoff, or simply over-watering. For suggestions about smart watering practices, see My Lawn and Garden. You may also contact the expert staff at the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224 (language interpretation available).

History of third-tier rates

A two-tiered residential summer rate was first introduced in 1989. A third-tier was developed during the 1992 drought along with rate surcharges and mandatory restrictions on water use. However, these temporary measures were rescinded as soon as the drought was over. Residential customers were reintroduced to third-tier water rates during the 2001 drought to discourage discretionary summertime water use. The third-tier rate was continued for 2002, but the Mayor and City Council reduced the rate and increased the ccf threshold effective July 16, 2002. Seasonal third-tier rates remained the same until 2009, when they increased at the same percentage as other retail rates.

Related links

Payment Assistance
Reduce Water Use
My Lawn and Garden

Links to other sites

Saving Water Partnership