My Bill Seems Too High

Your bill reflects the cost for the amount of water used and the size of garbage and food and yard waste containers at the property. The amount of water usage is based on meter readings between the billing periods. Your sewer bill is based upon your water usage.

Unless a property is completely unlivable, you will receive a bill for minimum service charges even when no water is being used or garbage being collected at a vacant property. The average bill for a vacant property is about $32.00/month. This reflects a minimum sewer charge, a daily base service charge, and an administrative vacancy rate for garbage service.

If you have concerns about an unexpectedly high bill, continue reading below or contact us about your account.



Water leaks, dripping faucets, or a constantly running toilet affect your water consumption and your water and sewer charges. Not all leaks can be seen or heard, and some may be in an outside pipe between the street and the building. Learn how to find and fix water leaks.

Customers are responsible for repairing leaks in pipes and fixtures on their property and for water and sewer charges resulting from leaks. In some instances, adjustments may be available for underground leaks between the street and the foundation of your house or building. Dripping faucets and running toilets are not considered underground leaks.

Besides leaks, consider where water can be regularly used on a property:

  • Showers and tubs
  • Toilets
  • Kitchen sinks and dishwashers
  • Refrigerator ice makers and water dispensers
  • Laundry
  • Outside faucets
  • Pools and hot tubs
  • Gardens and lawns

If you've had visitors, temporary guests, celebrations, or gatherings, your water usage might be higher than usual. The more people at the property, the more water will be used, not just in additional showers or baths, but also with more cooking, cleaning, dishes, and laundry.

During the summer, water rates are billed on a tier system, which means the more water you use, the higher the rate. Even if you are using the same amount of water all year long, the cost for using that water will be more expensive in the summer. If the weather has turned warm or even hot, you might be watering your garden or lawn more often.

Find out if you are eligible for a leak adjustment.



Sewer charges are calculated based on the water used during a given billing period. The rate for sewer service is significantly more expensive than the cost for water. Any increase in your water usage significantly increases your sewer charges. The only way to lower your sewer charges is to reduce the amount of water being used.


Solid Waste (Garbage and Food and Yard Waste)

The cost for garbage and food and yard waste service is based on the size of your container. You are charged for the service even if you don't put the container out for pickup. There are several container size options. If you regularly have space in your container each week, consider downsizing.

If you regularly overfill your container so the lid doesn't shut or have extra outside of the container, you will be charged for extra garbage or extra yard waste. Depending on what you leave sitting outside the container, you may be charged for multiple pickups. Extra charges can add up during the 8 weeks between bi-monthly billings and cause a significant increase in your bill.

If you are regularly charged for extra garbage or food and yard waste pickup, consider increasing your container size. Garbage service is considerably more expensive than food and yard waste service. Recycling is the best, as that service is free. Before considering an increase in your garbage service, think about whether you can recycle more.



Your electricity is managed by Seattle City Light. Call (206) 684-3000 or search their website for information about high electric bills.


Estimated Meter Readings

It is possible that your last bill was generated with an estimated meter reading. If the estimated read was too low, the difference between the estimated usage and your actual usage will be reflected on the next bill. This may make it seem like your bill is higher than normal, but it's just the cost of the consumption you weren't billed for in the previous billing period. You can tell if your previous meter reading was an estimate, because there will be an asterisk (*) next to the meter reading for the last bill.

Estimated meter reads are rare but sometimes necessary. If we cannot access your water meter to obtain a reading, we will estimate your bill. If you receive a bill with a high estimate, your next bill will be reduced by the excess amount of usage. Most bills are from actual meter readings, so you will never be billed for more water than was used at the property for the duration of your account.


Related Resources


Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.