There is a lot of discussion about sewer fees with respect to your lawn sprinkler system. Unfortunately, this is a case where one answer simply won’t apply. The best way to begin is where you live. Your particular sewer district and water district need to be taken into account when looking at sewer fees. The most frequent question that comes up is: Should I install a separate (agricultural) meter that will not charge for sewerage, because the water is used outdoors?
Should I Install a Separate Meter?
If you live in the Lexington area, and Kentucky American is your water company, and you receive a separate sewer bill from Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG), the general answer to the above question is “probably not”. The reason for this, is that your sewer billing in the Spring and Summer months is actually based on an average calculated during the Fall and Winter months. Therefore, you really aren’t paying additional fees for sewerage based on increased water consumption during the Summer months. This generally dispenses with the need for a separate meter. There could be other reasons why you might need, or want, a separate meter, but sewer usage costs would not be one of them.
One caveat here to remember, however, is that if you use your system outside of this averaged “window” which is generally April through September, you will incur significantly higher sewer bills from that water usage. This can come into play during a warm late Fall, where watering might be desired, or perhaps if you seed your lawn late in the season, and need to run the system into October. For most residential applications though, I still would not recommend a separate meter.
If you live outside of the LFUCG district, a separate meter might be appropriate. Most districts do not adjust for increased water usage mathematically as LFUCG does. Typically, sewerage fees are paid on the basis of water usage. If you use more water, you pay more sewerage fees. On a smaller system, this might not be an issue, but on larger systems it can be half or more of your water bill! There are many different districts, and a little investigation must be done to determine this. Also some individuals are on septic, and pay no sewerage at all. Others pay much more for sewerage than water. The point is, you have to find out this information for every district, and can’t just make a general statement regarding these fees.
To sum up, I recommend the following:
1) If you live in the LFUCG district and receive a separate sewer bill from the City, I generally (depending on individual circumstances and needs) do not recommend installing a separate meter.
2) If you live outside of the LFUCG district, it might be appropriate and cost-effective to install a separate meter – but further investigation is warranted.
3) The above discussion applies to residential use only. Commercial use is an entirely different situation, and usually a separate meter is appropriate.
If you would like more information, here is a link to the LFUCG website on this subject: http://www.lexingtonky.gov/index.aspx?page=669