About Water & Wastewater Services
Water and wastewater treatment services are provided by either city or county government agencies, also known as municipal service providers, member cooperatives, or private companies. Private investor owned utility companies use investor resources to build the infrastructure and facilities that allow them to provide water or wastewater services to their customers. Only investor owned companies are regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
Before providing services, changing rates, or altering terms of service, regulated companies must get approval from the PUC. These regulated water companies provide water to their customers by pumping it from underground wells. Water is then treated for potable use or daily use and drinking, and is then stored in tanks or reservoirs until it is distributed to paying customers. Regulated wastewater companies, on the other hand, collect wastewater from customers and transport it through sewer lines to a treatment plant. At the treatment plant, wastewater is treated to remove pollutants through the use of various chemicals and filters. The treated wastewater cannot be used for drinking or other daily use but it can be used for irrigation purposes such as watering a nearby golf course. There are some privately owned companies, however, that do not always treat the wastewater that they collect. Sometimes sewage is routed by a company to a municipal treatment facility and then processed there.
Occasionally, water and wastewater companies will include in their tariffs an Energy Cost Adjustment Factor. If approved by the PUC, this factor allows a utility to make adjustments to their rates that allow them to recover fluctuating expenses related to providing services that are beyond their control, such as fuel costs charged by electric companies.
In some instances, your wastewater bill may be calculated by the amount of water that is used at your home or business. Some bills are calculated this way based on the idea that the amount of wastewater you put into the sewer system correlates to the amount of potable water that you use during your billing cycle. However, there are some companies that are unable to measure wastewater flows and charge their customers a flat monthly rate instead.