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.
An unexplained 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. A quick check would be to turn off all appliances and fixtures that use water and check the flow indicator on the meter. If it indicates that water is flowing then there is a leak somewhere in your plumbing system.
You’ve probably heard that BCWA bills are high compared to other water utilities. This can vary based on how the comparisons are made. Due mainly to water conservation efforts, BCWA customers use about 44 gallons of water per person per day, compared to other water utilities where usage may be higher than 100 gallons per person per day. Should other water utilities’ consumption drop closer to that of the BCWA, they would need a significant rate increase to continue to operate their system. Furthermore, the low usage causes the BCWA to flush the system more often to maintain good water quality.
Actual readings are obtained from each meter via the automated meter reading (AMR) system. If the meter interface unit (MIU) is not functioning, you will receive an estimated bill based on previous usage. If you receive an estimated bill, please call the Customer Service Department at 401-245-2022.
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 Bristol County Water Authority bills every quarter, however, on occasion a bill can be over or under the 90 day period.
Most bills are based on actual readings, while estimated bills are based on usage history.
Please visit our website to download an application for a new service and call our engineering office at (401) 245-2022 for assistance.
If you will be away for an extended period of time, you may call BCWA Customer Service at 401-245-2022, to shut off the water service at your property.
If your absence occurs during periods of freezing temperatures, you must insure that all faucets, plumbing fixtures and pipes are completely drained to avoid damage due to freezing. Lastly, you should notify BCWA of your forwarding address, so that you may receive your final water bill.
Please call BCWA Customer Service at (401) 245-2022 to request a final bill and to update the mailing address on your account.
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 may only occur when a faucet or valve is in the open position.
Add a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Do not flush the toilet! 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 may develop behind walls or in areas that are not visible. Read your meter periodically to monitor for unexplained increases in consumption.
Your water meter is equipped with a leak indicator. Visit our website for instructions on “How To Check The Meter Leak Indicator”.
General Water Questions
Pipes may freeze if located in uninsulated areas. Do not try to thaw frozen pipes using a torch or other open flame! Use a hair dryer or heat tape to slowly thaw the pipe. Open a nearby faucet to allow the heated vapor to escape. If you are unable to restore flow, please contact BCWA Customer Service at 401-245-2022.
Call BCWA Customer Service at (401) 245-2022 immediately make a report.
It is the responsibility of the property owner to protect the service pipe and water meter from freezing. If your meter does freeze, the BCWA 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.
Lead in Faucets and Service Pipes
The Rhode Island Department of Public Health has information at http://health.ri.gov/water/about/lead/
The NSF certifies plumbing fixtures, water filters, and bottled water and can be reached at 1-800-NSF-MARK or through their website at www.nsf.org.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website on lead in drinking water: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water
Responding to recent regulations, faucet manufacturers have decreased or eliminated the lead in residential kitchen faucets, bathroom faucets, bar faucets, drinking fountains, and ice-makers. Starting January 4, 2014, all faucets will be produced with no more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead with respect to the wetted surface. The national standard for certifying plumbing fixtures “lead free” status is determined by the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF) – the standard is International Standard 61-Section 9. New faucets meeting the NSF 61 standard will have NSF 61/9 stamped on the new faucets cardboard box.
For more information on lead-free fixtures including catalogs and website directories, contact NSF at 1-800-NSF-MARK or www.nsf.org.
The most cost effective ways to minimize lead exposure from drinking water are:
- Flush faucets used for drinking and cooking for several minutes until cold in the morning or after coming home from school/work to insure fresh water from the main in the street and flushing out any contaminates from the household plumbing
- Use only cold water for drinking and cooking
- Get your water tested if concerned. Be sure that only valves and filters intended for drinking water supply are used in any home plumbing project.
In extreme cases, older faucets can contribute up to one-third of the lead in water that has been sitting in the pipes for several hours, with the remainder coming from other plumbing such as pre-1988 lead solder joints in copper pipes or a lead service line.
The water supply is lead free and the pipes that carry the water to your street are made of cast iron, ductile iron or concrete, and do not add lead to the water. However, lead can get into tap water through a lead service line connecting your house to the pipe in the street, or pipes in the home, lead solder used in plumbing, and some brass fixtures. Corrosion or wearing away of lead based materials can add lead to tap water, especially if water sits for a long time in the pipes before use.
Few lead services were installed in the BCWA water system, and have since been removed. Even so, the BCWA is on a constant look-out for any lead on the homeowner’s side of the connection when we inspect or change meters. We are currently reviewing galvanized iron services (about 105 in our system), that may have had a lead connector.
Even though our test levels for lead are very low or non-detectable, we will remove any lead found in the BCWA system. However, the homeowner owns a piece of the service line from the property line into the house. This pipe is the ownerâ€™s responsibility. Should the BCWA determine the service line is not copper or not in good condition upon inspection, the BCWA will recommend replacement.
Federal and State lead regulations do not cover hose bibs, bathtub fixtures, shower heads, and industrial faucets.
Most faucets purchased prior to 1997 were constructed of brass or chrome-plated brass, which contain up to 8 percent lead (the main metals in brass are copper and zinc). Water sitting for several hours or overnight in a brass faucet can leach lead from the brass faucet interior which may produce high lead levels in the first draw of drinking water. Later regulations mandated that most faucets purchased after 1997 contain less lead than previously used thereby reducing the possible leaching of lead. However, the most recent legislation, called â€œGet the Lead Out,â€ mandates that after January 4, 2014, all faucets purchased will contain no more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead in relation to wetted surface.
Some faucet manufactures produce plastic faucets that have virtually zero lead. Other manufactures are substituting other metals for the lead in the brass, inserting copper tubes inside the brass faucets, or applying special coatings on the inside of the faucets in order to minimize or eliminate lead leaching. With the recent legislation, more and more faucet manufacturers are advertising faucets that adhere to the new “lead-free” definition allowing a maximum of 0.25 percent lead.