Water & Sewer Rates
What's a Ccf?
Charleston Water System measures water use in cubic feet and bills in units of one hundred cubic feet, abbreviated Ccf.
1 cubic foot = 7.48 gal
100 cubic feet = 1 Ccf = 748 gallons
To convert water use from Ccf to gallons, multiply by 748:
3.25 Ccf x 748 = 2,431 gal
How to read your water meter
Charleston Water System's operations are funded by revenue from water and sewer bills. Therefore, our rates are structured to recover operating costs and fund capital improvements.
Charleston Water retains a rate consultant to ensure our rates meet cost recovery requirements and follow industry standards. Rate increases are approved by our Board of Commissioners.
On Dec. 1, 2012, water and sewer rates increased by an average of 4.5% and 5.5%, respectively. This is the last of three rate increases approved by our Board of Commissioners in 2010 to fund the 2011 - 2013 Capital Improvement Program.
Your water bill is calculated based on three things:
1. Connection Size
The diameter of your water service line(the line between your water meter and home/business) affects your rate because larger pipes carry more water and place a greater demand on the system. Most homes and small businesses have a three-quarter-inch service. Commercial buildings that have a high water demand, such as hotels and industrial facilities, can have a service line up to twelve inches in diameter.
2. Where You Live
Customers who live inside the City of Charleston pay lower rates. Why? Charleston Water System is a public utility owned by the citizens of the City of Charleston. When Charleston Water borrows money to fund infrastructure, it is the citizens of Charleston who bear the risk of the debt and new infrastructure.
Because of this risk, rates for customers outside of the City are calculated to include return on investment and depreciation of assets, resulting in a higher rate. This is a standard practice in utility rate setting, and many large utilities that provide service to areas outside of their municipal bounds use this methodology.
3. Monthly Water Consumption
Charleston Water System has a minimum bill, meaning all customers pay a minimum monthly water bill for 2 Ccf of usage (1,500 gallons), regardless of whether the entire 2 Ccf is used. After the first 2 Ccf, a specific rate is charged for each additional Ccf.
Even if you don't use any water, Charleston Water must still have infrastructure in place to make service available to you and provide fire protection. The minimum bill recovers these costs, as well as costs associated with administrative services like meter reading and billing.
How to calculate your bill
Dedicated Fire Service
Dedicated fire services are connections to the public water system that are only used for fire protection. These water service lines are typically connected to a building's fire sprinkler system.
There is no connection fee for the installation of a dedicated fire service, but there is a monthly rate determined by the pipe size, as shown in the table below.
Rates for Private Fire Protection
Effective December 1, 2012
|4-inch or less
Wholesale Water Service
In addition to providing retail water service to some 108,000 accounts, Charleston Water System also wholesales water to a number of utilities and municipalities in the greater Charleston area, including:
- St. Johns Water Company (serves Kiawah and Seabrook Islands)
- Mt. Pleasant Waterworks
- Dorchester County Public Works
- Town of Sullivan's Island
- Isle of Palms Water & Sewer Commission
- Folly Beach
- Joint Base Charleston
Who's your sewer provider?
Charleston Water System only provides sewer service to areas within the City of Charleston, unincorporated areas in West Ashley, parts of Johns Island, and the Cainhoy peninsula.
For CWS water customers outside of these areas, public sewer service is provided by one of the following utilities:
Charleston Water System is the billing agent for some of these sewer providers (you'll see this noted on your bill), but we do not set rates or manage the sewer infrastructure for these agencies.
Charleston Water System's Sewer Rates
Sewer rates are based on water consumption. This is because the majority of water you use goes down drains and toilets and ends up in the sewer system. Charleston Water System charges a minimum sewer bill for the first 3 Ccf and a specific rate for each additional Ccf.
For single-family residential customers that do not have an irrigation meter, sewer charges are based on 95% of metered water usage. Residential sewer customers who receive their water service from St. Johns Water Company are billed for sewer based on 100% of water usage.
For multi-family residential customers, single-family residential customers with an irrigation meter, and commercial customers, sewer charges are based on 100% of water usage.
Non-Metered Flat Rate
Customers who receive water service from a private well and sewer service from Charleston Water System are charged a flat rate for sewer. This is because without metered water service, there is no way to measure sewer usage.
The monthly flat rate is $47.60 for customers inside the City of Charleston and $66.52 for those outside the city limits.
Sewer Cap for Residential Customers
Single family residential customers without an irrigation meter will not be billed for sewer on water usage above 18 Ccf (13,500 gallons). This is the maximum sewer charge (sewer cap).
Charleston Water System offers separate irrigation meters for customers who use a high volume of water for irrigation purposes. Irrigation meters are not charged for sewer. Learn more about irrigation meters
In addition to retail sewer service, Charleston Water System provides treatment services to several municipalities in the Greater Charleston area, including the towns of Folly Beach, Hollywood, Ravenel, and Meggett.
This means that wastewater generated from these areas flows through a master meter and is treated at Charleston Water System’s plant, but Charleston Water System does not provide direct service to customers in those areas.