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Did You Know?

You can save water in your garden by planting less grass. Shrubs and ground cover provide year-round greenery with less water and maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Why does my bill change from month to month?

Bills change according to water usage, which fluctuates as a result of a number of things, including the number of people who live at a property. Everyone has different personal water habits that will affect the amount of water used in a given month, and water consumption may vary from season to season. Many customers increase their water consumption in the summer months by using water cooled air conditioning, watering gardens, washing cars, filling swimming pools, etc. Bills may also fluctuate based on the number of days in a billing period. The Boston Water and Sewer Commission bills every month, however, on occasion a bill can be over or under the 30 day period. Most bills are based on actual readings, while estimated bills are based on usage history.

Why is my bill so high?

Bills change according to water usage, which fluctuates from month to month. Many customers increase their water consumption in the summer months by using water cooled air conditioning, watering gardens, washing cars, filling swimming pools, etc. Otherwise, a drastic increase in consumption could be an indication that a problem at a property exists and should be inspected for leaks by checking all plumbing, fixtures and water appliances.

How do I check for leaks?

Faucets – Check all faucets and piping for leaks by monitoring for drips of water under sinks and from exposed pipes. Perform an inspection with the water on and off, as some leaks only occur when the water is on.

Toilets – Add a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the food coloring appears in the toilet bowl, this means you have a leak. Some toilet leaks are intermittent, so you don’t always see or hear the water running.

Check plumbing in the basement by monitoring for drips of water coming from exposed pipes.

Occasionally, leaks develop behind walls or in areas that are not visible. Read your meter periodically to monitor for drastic changes.

How can I lower my bill and conserve water?

Bills change according to water usage, which can fluctuate based on personal water habits. You can lower the water consumption at your property by installing water saving devices or following some simple conservation tips. You may also sign up for a free conservation kit.

Why is my bill estimated?

Actual readings are obtained each day via the automated meter reading (AMR) system. If the meter transmission unit (MTU) is not functioning, you will receive an estimated bill based on previous usage. If your property is equipped with the AMR system and you receive an estimated bill, please call the Customer Service Department at 617-989-7800.

Why is my sewer charge higher than my water charge?

Your sewer charge is based on the water consumption at your property. Sewer rates are higher than water rates due to a mandate to clean Boston Harbor and ongoing projects for sewerage treatment by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).

Can I pay my bill online or over the phone?

You can pay your bill via BWSC’s website. Visit our Your Account page to pay your bill now. BWSC offers the option of payments via phone through Paymentus, our bill payment service. To pay your bill over the phone, dial 844-470-5881.

Can I pay my bill with a credit card?

BWSC accepts MasterCard, Visa, Discover, debit cards with these logos and cash at its headquarters at 980 Harrison Avenue, Boston, during office hours. Credit cards and eChecks are also accepted online and over the phone.

I am buying/selling property. What should I do?

If you are purchasing or selling a home in Boston, contact the BWSC Lien Department at 617-989-7000 to request a final meter read and a lien certificate. The cost is $25 to $150 depending on the type of property. The lien certificate should be presented at the home’s closing to ensure the seller pays all accrued charges. For more information, visit our Buying or Selling Property page.

I will temporarily be away. What should I do?

If you will be away for an extended period of time, you may submit a written request to BWSC’s Customer Service Department, 980 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02119, to shut off the water service at your property. Once the water service is shut off, all faucets should be completely drained. In addition, you should notify BWSC of your forwarding address, so that you may receive your water and sewer bills. BWSC has a return service with the Post Office, and any bills which are undeliverable are returned to BWSC.

How do I prevent my pipes from freezing?

It is the responsibility of the property owner to protect the service pipe and water meter from freezing. If your meter does freeze, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission will replace the meter, and your account will be assessed a meter replacement fee. If the service pipe freezes, it is the owner’s responsibility to thaw the frozen pipe or consult a licensed plumber.

Tips on preventing your pipes from freezing:

  • Insulate water meter and pipes in unheated spaces like garages, basements, and crawl spaces.
  • Additionally, insulating hot water pipes will decrease your wait time for warm water.
  • Repair broken and cracked windows, doors, and walls. Close all doors and windows near pipes, and make sure there is no draft.
  • During cold weather (prolonged temperatures below 32 degrees), allow a slow trickle of water to flow through faucets connected to water pipes that run through unheated spaces.
  • Disconnect garden hoses, and install covers on all outside faucets. Shut off water to outside faucets, and drain those water lines.

What should I do if my pipes freeze?

Do not use an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe. This is not only a fire hazard, it could also cause a steam explosion. Use a hair dryer or heat lamp to thaw a frozen pipe, and open a nearby faucet to release vapor from melting ice.

When pipes are frozen, there is often water available at one faucet but not another. If there is no water at all, the problem may be in the street. Call the Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s Operations Division at 617-989-7900.

How do I read my water meter?

Your water meter is read from left to right, just like a car odometer. Your meter reads in cubic feet. 7.48 gallons = 1 cubic foot (cuft.) of water.

Can I obtain a bill history or a duplicate bill for my account?

You can obtain your current and previous month’s bill and a transaction history for the previous 24 months via the BWSC’s website. Visit our Your Account page under Customer Service. Should you need additional information, please contact the Customer Service Department at 617-989-7800.

How can I change my mailing address?

If you are moving, it is necessary to update the mailing address on your account. You may contact the Customer Service Department at 617-989-7800 or contact us through our website.

Can I bill my residential tenant for water and sewer charges?

The Water Sub-Metering Act was signed into law on December 16, 2004. Tenants in apartments occupied from this date forward are eligible for sub-metering. For more information visit our Sub Metering page.