Lancaster Sewer District Commission

Lancaster Massachusetts

Billing Frequently Asked Questions

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General Questions

Why does my sewer payment get sent to a PO Box in Lancaster PA?

The LSDC utilizes a payment lock-box service which provides for an effcient and cost effective way to manage bill processing.  Your payment is sent to the lock box, processed, and entered into our recievable system.  This service speeds up collection and simplifies account management.  Our service partner is Fulton Bank which is located in Lancaster PA.

I mailed in a check several weeks ago but the funds have not been withdrawn from my account.

The LSDC utilizes a payment lock-box service that typically processes payments within three business days of the receipt of your check. Delays can happen around the closing date of billing cycles but if your check has not been processed after two weeks or more you should contact your financial institution to review options for dealing with lost checks.  

Please note that if a check that has been lost in the mail is eventually delivered our service will attempt to process the check.

The LSDC is not responsible for fees or check cancelation charges incurred by customers as a result of payments that were lost in the mail.

I thought I just paid a bill to the town, why am I getting a seperate sewer bill?

The Lancaster Sewer District Commission is non-profit municipal utility company, separate from the Town of Lancaster.  What you probably just paid was a water bill.  The Town's website incorrectly labels online water payments as "water and sewer" and they have been unable to correct this error.

Can I pay my sewer bill at the Town Hall with my water bill?

No, the Town does not collect sewer usage bills for the LSDC.  The LSDC allows you to make payments in a variety of manners. You can drop off your payment at our office during office hours, you can pay online, or you can mail the payment to our bill processing center.

Can I pay my sewer bill with a credit card?

Yes, we accept credit cards if you pay your bill through our online billing portal. You can use Visa, Mastercard, Discover or by E-Check.

What happens if I am late paying my sewer bill?

Please pay your bills on time.  The LSDC is a non-profit municipal utility and we are able to keep our rates low because we have low overhead.  Later payments severely impact our operating expenses and can lead to increased rates for everyone.  

Late fees are assessed whenever your payment is not sent in on time.  The Commission will also periodically apply annual liens against property owners that are habitually late paying their bills.  These liens can turn into tax titles if not paid quickly.

If you are having trouble paying your sewer bill please contact us to see if you qualify for a payment plan.

How often will I get these bills?

The sewer district issue usage bills every three months, or quarterly. You can typically expect to receive a sewer bill within about a month after receiving a water bill.

Why is the timeframe shown different from my water bill?

The Sewer District historically bills in arrears of the Water Department.  Please confirm that you are comparing bills from the same period.


Rate Calculations and Charges

How is my bill calculated?

Your sewer bill is based on your water usage.  This is a common way of generating sewer bills used by cities and towns across the country.  The more water you use the higher your sewer bill will be.  The LSDC uses a flat rate system with a minimum use charge.  Once you use more than the minimum use, you will be charged the same rate for every gallon you use.  

What is my rate based on and why do rates increase periodically?

We base our rate on what we are charged by the MWRA treatment plant that treats the sewerage as well as our annual operating costs.  The majority of our costs are fixed and we recoup those costs through our rates.  When the treatment costs go up we typically reevaluate what we are charging customers and determine if we can absorb the increase in treatment costs with our rate stabilization fund.  If we cannot, our only choice is to increase rates.  

What is the minimum use charge?

Please see the current sewer usage rate in our Schedule of Fees.

What is this 'CF' I see on the bills with a bunch of numbers next to it?

“CF” stands for Cubic Feet.  It's the unit of measurement that is used on water meters.  Where CF is indicated on your bill is the usage for the three month period being billed. 1 Cubic Foot is equivalent to 7.481 Gallons.

How does the LSDC's rates compare to other cities and towns?

According to annual rate surveys, the LSDC is right in the middle of the pack compared to other cities and towns.  We work hard to contain costs and keep rates low and have actually only had four rate increases over the past 15 years.

How do you get my water use, do I have a sewer meter that you read?

We have an agreement with the water department.  After they read your meter and complete their billing they share the meter data with the LSDC so that we can generate our bills.  There is no sewer meter.

How much of my water use is charged to sewer use?

All of it.  We calculate rates based on 100% of your water use.  

What about summertime outdoor water use?  That water isn't going into the sewer.  

It's true that outdoor water use is not going into the sewer.  However, our rate calculation takes that into consideration.  We simply divide our total treatment costs by 100% water use to get the per gallon rate.  If we discounted for typical outdoor water use your per gallon rate would need to be increased because our treatment costs are fixed and still need to be recouped.


Abatements

Do you make any exceptions for extraordinary use? I put a new pool in and used a lot of water to fill it.

We do make exceptions and will gladly abate (reduce) your bill for unusual water spikes for something like a pool fill up.  Please submit a General Abatement Request Form.

What about if it was a dry summer and my use was high.  Can I get an abatement for that too?

Unfortunately, we can't just give you an abatement to you because your use was high.  Most summertime outdoor water use is considered “typical” and is already accounted for in our rate structure.  You would need to be able to quantify an extraordinary use so that we can apply a number to it.  We understand that you may have used a lot of water on your lawn or your garden but unless you can show that it was unusual use we can't give you an abatement.

What type of use is considered extraordinary that you will allow an abatement for?

The most common type is pool fill ups.  But there are numerous other circumstances where an abatement will be considered.  They key is that the use has to be something that can be quantified.  You as the customer need to provide some compelling proof that the use is unusual and that you can reasonably calculate the unusual amount that you are seeking an abatement on.  

I have a lawn irrigation system and use a lot of outdoor water.  Is there an abatement for that?

We instituted a Second Meter Program for Outdoor Water Use Abatements which enables customers to receive a 100% credit for all outdoor water use.  Otherwise, the Commission does not give abatements for outdoor water use.

I was in the Automatic Sprinkler Abatement Program a few years ago. Why am I not still getting an abatement?

These automatic abatements are no longer calculated for you automatically.  The Automatic Sprinkler Abatement Program was eliminated in summer of 2014 after it proved to be problematic for many of our customers.  It was replaced by the Commission's Second Meter Program for Outdoor Water Use Abatements. After 2014 all customers applying for outdoor water use abatements must have a second meter.


High Sewer Usage Charge

My bill seems very high.  What's causing it to be so high?

A high sewer bill can be caused by a number of factors.  Most likely it's probably because your water use was high.  Again, we base our sewer bill on 100% of your water use.  Examine your sewer bill and find the quarter being billed.  The sewer district typically bills about one to three months behind the water bills.  Check this quarter with your sewer bill and compare the usage.  If it's the same usage number, then your sewer bill was accurate.

My bills match but my use seems high and I suspect there is a problem with my water meter or the reading.  What can I do?

You need to contact the Lancaster Water Department.  They will come to your home and examine your meter for problems.  If they discover a problem that adjusts your use, then we will be happy to adjust your sewer bill accordingly.

I suspect an error.  How do I get it corrected?

Errors do sometimes occur.  If you have compared your water bill to your sewer bill and found that the use is different you should fill out a General Abatement Request Form.

I spoke to my neighbors and their bills were not as high as mine.  Are you sure this bill is correct?

If you have already compared your sewer bill against your water bill and confirmed your use then yes, your bill is correct.  

I've looked at my bill, it's correct but it's high. Is there anything else I can do?

Be water conscious and conserve water.  See our Water Conservation page for tips on reducing your water usage and your sewer bill.


Billing Errors and Closeouts

My bill indicates that I have an overdue balance but I'm sure I paid.  What's the problem?

Please confirm with us that the amount was paid and we'll be happy to correct your bill.  To prove payment, we will need a front and backside copy of the cashed check.

I moved and requested a closeout and I paid it.  Why is the new bill showing a credit?  Do you owe me money?

When you request a closeout we issue you a special bill out of our normal billing cycle for use that we have not otherwise billed yet.  In some instances, depending on where we are in the billing cycle, this closeout bill can contain several months of usage that have not yet been billed.  Until our billing cycle catches up to your closing date your statements will reflect a credit because you have paid to a current date while our bills are for prior dates.  You are not owed any money as a result of this.


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Does the sewer bill you just received seem too high?  Are you concerned about billing address?

This Q&A below should help.  

Before you call the LSDC there are a number of things you should know how your bill is processed and calculated.  Please review the topics below to learn more about your sewer bills.


General Questions

Rate Calculations and Charges

Abatements

High Sewer Usage Charge

Billing Corrections and Closeouts