A Great Guide To Understand NYC Water Bill Rates, Billing & The Dispute Process

Water Main Service
August 1, 2023

by David Balkan

outside water meter

Many people do not realize this, but even if no water is used inside your home, there is a minimum charge on your NYC water bill. In 2022 the minimum charge was frozen for the 9th consecutive year at $1.27 per day.  This resulted in roughly 25% of all single-family homeowners, many of whom are seniors, seeing no rate increase in their NYC water and sewer bill.

Another point that most people are not aware of, is that even if you close your tap connection on the city main, you will be billed the minimum charge. The only way to stop receiving a bill from NYC for water usage is to permanently destroy the tap connection, file to have your water meter permanently removed and have the work inspected by the DEP.

NYC water bill rates

The sewer rate is higher than the water usage Rate

Many people do not realize that the sewer rate is substantially higher than the water rate. The Sewer rate is set at 159% of the water charges. As of July 1, 2022, water costs $4.30 per 100 cubic feet (748 gallons), the sewer rate is $6.82, and the combined cost of water and sewer is $11.12 per 100 cubic feet. The minimum water and sewer charge per metered household remains at $1.27 per day, which it has been for many years. For more information visit the NYC Water Board website.

A good reason to pay your water bill? NYC is turning off water to delinquent accounts

In March of 2024, NYC Mayor Eric Adams and DEP Commissioner Aggarwala announced that the next phase of expanded collection actions against approximately 2,400 habitually delinquent NYC water accounts will begin. These folks are estimated to owe NYC a total of about $102 million. The DEP plans to send out ‘Water Shutoff Notices’ to these customers, informing them that water service to their building could be shut off unless they pay the entire owed amount, or they set up a payment agreement with the city within the next 15 days. If the DEP does shut off a water supply for a building, that charge alone is $1,000.00 in addition to the outstanding bill.

Destroying a tap connection to stop your water bill

The difference between destroying a tap connection on the city main, and simply turning it off is vast. Once destroyed the water service line cannot be reactivated, it is permanently discontinued. There are only two instances where this is permissible in NYC:

  1. Tap connections can be plugged when the building is being demolished. This is done in conjunction with also plugging the house sewer line, along with the gas and electric services.
  2. In some rare cases, a building may have two domestic water services. This is no longer legal in NYC, but instances do exist. When two domestic water services feed a property, one of the services can be plugged if the remaining service is adequate for the property.

If a tap connection is destroyed to save in water charges, it typically takes five years or more to make back the expense of the job. That estimate is based on the typical cost of plugging a tap. What is also important to note is that supplying water to a building is required by code in almost all instances.

The threads are cut off the tap connection to be considered a plug

Eliminating Your Water Bill: What is the cost to plug a tap?

To reiterate, in most cases when a tap is plugged and the house sewer is also plugged it is because the building is being demolished. With that being said, the cost of plugging a tap connection in NYC in the year 2023 for water service will typically range from about $3,400.00 to $4,400.00. The price will vary depending on the job location, on job site conditions.

If a house sewer is also going to be plugged at the same time the minimum additional charge would be about $1,000.00. Again, the location of the work plays a large role in the cost. Outside of NYC, one would expect the cost to be less, and you would be advised to check with the local authorities on the level of the owner’s responsibility to perform such work. To reiterate, plugging both the sewer and water lines will eliminate utility bill payments for those services.

Disputing a NYC Water Bill or Penalty

In some cases, a property owner may feel they are receiving an erroneous or exaggerated bill about their water usage. In some cases, there can even be an accusation of theft of water, whose penalties are quite hefty. Of course, there are cases where folks illegally remove their water meter or make illegal connections for theft of water. These instances are met with quite hefty penalties, as the DEP has taken an increasingly harsh view of these actions., as they should. However, if you feel you have a legitimate dispute with a bill or a penalty, the Water Board does allow for filing a dispute about your water and sewer bill.

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David Balkan

David Balkan is the CEO of Balkan Sewer And Water Main, the largest and most trusted service in New York City. David is extremely active in various NYC plumber organizations being the Chairman of the Subsurface Committee in the Master Plumbers Council, and Vice President of the Subsurface Plumbers Association. In addition David’s expertise is respected by officials of New York City agencies such as the NYC DEP, NYC DOB, and the NYC DOT. He frequently provides valuable input on a variety of industry related matters.

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