Q. Why is my water bill running more than last year at this time?
A. Water and wastewater costs are determined by the prevailing rate per 1,000 cubic feet of water used during each billing period. Rates for Forsyth County increased 9.75 percent on Oct. 1, 2012. Even with this increase, the water and wastewater rates in Forsyth County are lower than those in Raleigh, Charlotte, and other major cities in North Carolina. The City/County Utility Commission approves rate increases. These increases are part of the Department's budget, which is submitted to the Winston-Salem City Council as part of the City's budget. The Council votes on the city's annual budget.
Q. What is a base charge and why does the base water charge depend on the size of my water connection?
A. The base charge is a fee implemented to cover costs associated with reading and inspecting meters, servicing those meters, providing an availability to serve, and billing services provided. The base charge is set based on the meter size so that operational costs associated with replacing, reading, and rebuilding the meter, as well as providing adequate flow and pressure to those meters are covered. The factors that apply to how a base charge is set are established by the American Water and Wastewater Association standards.
Q. Where is my water meter located?
A. Water meters are generally located in the front yard of the residence and placed to be accessible, when necessary, by Utilities Division employees.
Q. I live in Forsyth County. Why do I pay more for water than Winston-Salem residents?
A. The cost of delivering dependable water depends on the expense of operating and maintaining the water system, the cost of electricity used to pump the water from its source to homes and businesses; the salaries of meter-readers, technicians, administrative staff and others who help run the water utility.
Depending on where you live, these costs can vary from city to county. Communities in locations that are further away from water sources may pay additional costs to have pipes extended out to their area.
Q. I have a question about underground utilities. How would a person request it?
A. Please call (336)727-8000.
Q. What is in our tap water that causes a pink film?
A. An airborne fungus, called aspergillus, can sometimes cause a "blush" on your kitchen and bathroom fixtures. The fungus is commonly found in household environments. Aspergillus thrives in moist areas such as bathrooms. Chlorine bleach, or cleaning products that contain bleach, are effective at getting rid of the fungus.
Q. What causes the "earthy taste" that sometimes affects our water?
A. This occasionally occurs in the winter when tap water tastes "not so fresh." Organic materials from lakes and rivers are making the water smell and taste musty. The compounds, geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB), aren't easily removed during the purification process. The water is safe to drink even if the water doesn't taste the way it usually does. The unappealing taste is more common in the summer, when heat increases algal bloom in Salem Lake, which along with the Yadkin River, supply our raw water. When the compounds from the algae affect the taste, engineers reduce the amount of water coming from Salem Lake into the treatment plants, and increase the amount of river water. Powdered activated carbon (similar to what is in home water filtration devices) is also being used as needed and in addition to chlorine to treat the water.
Q. How do I request my water to be tested?
A. Please call 727-8000.
Q. How do I report what appears to be a sewage related odor?
Occasionally, you may become aware of what appears to be sewage-related odor in your neighborhood. While most often these odors are the result of shifts in weather patterns, an odor can also signal a ruptured or clogged line. To report an odor, please call 765-0134.