Beginning in February, City of Bellingham utility customers will transition from bi-monthly to monthly billing for water, wastewater, surface and stormwater payments.
The date of the switch from bi-monthly to monthly billing will depend on customers’ billing cycles. Customers can anticipate the switch once they have received their last bill containing any dates from 2021. By April 2022, all customers will be transitioned to monthly billing cycles.
The change will allow customers to better anticipate and pay their bills because the cost will be more consistent from month to month. Customers will also be able to see and respond to behavior and seasonal changes, as well as find and fix leaks quicker, saving the customer money.
Monthly billing will also benefit the utility, according to Marty Gray, Public Works Interim Superintendent of Maintenance. “Switching to monthly billing will help us reduce the volume of unaccounted water – which must be below ten percent and is monitored by the state,” said Gray.
Unaccounted water is the water leaked from the system between the water treatment plant and the customer. While the city knows how much water is being produced, with bi-monthly billing there is a two-month lag before it’s known how much the customer is using. Monthly billing will shorten that lag, and help the city respond to water main leaks sooner. Though monthly billing means twice the volume of bills to process, “the benefit to the customer and the utility in water conservation far outweigh the increase in work,” said Gray. “We are prepared for the increase in bill processing. The majority of water customers now have digital and radio-read meters, making collecting the data faster, and we are in the process of hiring and training two new employees to help process the bills in the Finance Department.”
More water conservation tips
Shortening the billing cycle is one way to reduce a customer’s utility bill. Customers are also encouraged to reduce water use, which will lead to savings on their utility bills. Water conservation can be as simple as making sure indoor fixtures are low-flow. The City offers rebates for larger fixtures, such as toilets and clothes washing machines, and offers a free indoor water saving kit to all water customers that includes a low-flow showerhead, kitchen sink aerator, bathroom sink aerators and toilet leak detection tablets. These kits can be picked up at two locations (Finance Department in City Hall at 210 Lottie Street or Public Works Operations at 2221 Pacific Street) or mailed directly to customers on request by emailing AskPW@cob.org.
For information about utility bills, please visit cob.org/bill-payment or contact the City of Bellingham Finance Department at UtilityBilling@cob.org or (360) 778-8011. For information on water conservation, visit cob.org/conserve or contact AskPW@cob.org.