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Yes. There is a minimum charge. Sewer customers are billed a flat rate per month for sewer usage from 0 to 3 CCF. Sewer customers that use in excess of 3 CCF are billed for the full amount used that month at the current billing rate.
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An abatement is a lessening or reduction in the billable amount for the sewer use billing period, for specific policy approved causes, where sewer billing cannot be fairly derived from the customer’s water meter reading.
The “billing unit” is one hundred cubic feet (“CCF” as a short-hand unit of measure term), or approximately 750 gallons. Two billing units would be equal to 2 CCF, or 200 cubic feet, or approximately 1,500 gallons.
The Water and Wastewater Commission for the City of Fitchburg are authorized to set the sewer rates for the Fitchburg Wastewater Division. Rate revenues must cover the day-to-day expenses incurred to operate the water and sewer systems, as well as support ongoing Wastewater Division maintenance and improvements that comply with federal and state agencies aimed at protecting health and the environment.
Rate changes typically occur for the June 1st billing period. Click here for the current sewer rates.
If you notice an apparent billing increase out side of the regularly scheduled rate increases, it is because your property’s water meter is reading more flow passing through the meter than before. If you are not increasing your water use (lawn or garden watering, water use for home maintenance, automobile washing, etc.), this would suggest that there are plumbing leaks on the property side of the water meter, and these leaks are “read” as water usage by the customer. Increased water use consumption by customers, due to plumbing leaks, lawn, house, property or automotive maintenance, are not abatable conditions, and customers will be billed for sewer use on these meter readings. (Refer to the DPW Wastewater Division’s Sewer Billing Abatement Policy for details.)
The industry average for residential water/sewer use is 120 CCF per year. The annual usage the City uses for statistical average is 100 CCF per year. Dividing this figure by 12 monthly billing periods, gives an average monthly usage of 8.333 CCF/month. The Wasterwater Division bills at the current monthly sewer rate, which results in the monthly billing rate which is assigned to sewer-only accounts.
Sewer-only customers have the option of installing a radio-read water meter on their water supply well (at the customer’s expense). If a sewer only customer installs a meter, the sewer billing for the account would be based on the meter reading, and would follow the sewer billing process. This would be advantageous to a sewer-only customer who believes that they use less than 8.333 CCF per month. Sewer-only customers seeking to pursue a meter installation, should contact the Fitchburg Water Department (Tel. No.: 978-345-9616) for information on the meter, and costing.
Residential & commercial plumbing systems have water traps built into the systems to prevent sewer gases from migrating into the buildings. Occasionally, on plumbing fixtures that aren’t often used, the water in the water trap can dry out and evaporate. Customers should run a gallon or two of water into the drains of fixtures to ensure that water traps have water. If the customers plumbing fixtures do not have water traps, or the water traps don’t seem to be working, the customer should contact a licensed plumber to inspect and repair the problem.
The City owns the sewer mains and sewer manholes in the streets, or in cross-country running sewer easements. The sewer customer owns, and is responsible for operating, maintaining, repairing and replacing the sewer service pipe that connects the customer’s home or building to the City-owned sewer, up to and including the connection to the City-owned sewer.
The City has implemented a one-call point-of-contact for the public or sewer customers to alert the City of an apparent sewer problem. The public or sewer customers are instructed to contact the Fitchburg DPW Dispatch, at (T) 978-829-1900.
Weekdays (non-holidays) the Fitchburg DPW Dispatch Desk is staffed from 7:00 AM thru 3:00 PM.
After hours on weekdays (non-holidays), on weekends, and on holidays, calls to the (T) 978-829-1900 number will be answered by an answering service, and the call message will be forwarded to the appropriate on-call City staff member. For sewer related calls, messages will be forwarded to the on-call DPW Wastewater Division on-call Collection System personnel.
City DPW Wastewater Division Collection System personnel responding to the site will investigate the City-owned sewers to determine if the source of the problem is in the City-owned sewers, or if the source of the problem appears to be in the sewer customer owned sewer service piping. Responding personnel will contact the caller to relay the findings, and any actions taken. If the source of the problem appears to be in the sewer customer owned sewer service piping, the caller (or customer) will be informed that the issue is in the private, customer owned piping, and that the caller (or customer) will need to contact a plumber to address the issue in the private, customer owned piping.