Sewer Rates & Billing Practices

Why is My Sewer Bill So High?

Online Sewer/Water Bill Payment (opens new browser window) MSD is under a federal mandate to reduce sewer overflows into local streams and rivers.

There is no federal or state funding to pay for this ~$3.1 billion program, which is known as Project Groundwork. As a result, it is funded primarily by MSD customers through their sewer bills. Sewer rates have been increasing over the years to cover the costs of this required but unfunded effort.

To learn more, visit our Project Groundwork website.

Online Bill Payment

Online Sewer/Water Bill Payment (opens new browser window)If your MSD sewer service is billed through Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW), you can Pay your Bill Online. (A new browser window will open.)

Please note: If you are billed for sewer service by an agency other than GCWW, online bill payment is not available at this time.

MSD Account Review

If you are an MSD and GCWW customer and think your sewer bill is abnormally high, please visit our MSD Account Review page.

What's New in 2018?

  • No sewer rate increase for 3rd year in a row. An average single-family household spends about $610 a year on sewer bills.

  • Monthly billing for GCWW customers.

  • Minimum base charge for sewer includes first 3 Ccf of water used each month.

  • The changes in billing frequency and the minimum base charge were recommended by the Hamilton County Rate Affordability Task Force, which was created to help improve affordability and equity for MSD customers. Additional changes could occur, as the Hamilton County Commissioners are still evaluating other recommendations from the Task Force, ranging from assistance for lower-income residents to assessing a new fee for impervious surfaces such as parking lots. View the Task Force's report...

    What Does My Sewer Bill Pay for?

    It's all about clean water! Your sewer bill helps make our rivers and streams cleaner and healthier because it helps pay for:

    • Collection and treatment of wastewater generated daily by your home or business. Wastewater, also known as sewage, is what goes down your drain or gets flushed down the toilet. Wastewater arriving at an MSD plant is treated, disinfected, and discharged as clean water into local streams and rivers.

    • Other operating costs to run and maintain a wastewater utility, such as personnel, equipment and tools, fuel, and fleet vehicles.

    • Capital improvements to keep our sewers and plants in good working condition.

    • Major capital investments required by a federal Consent Decree to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) into local streams and rivers and address sewer backups. These investments are part of our Project Groundwork program.

    For more information on how your ratepayer dollars are spent, please visit our Budget page and the Project Groundwork website.

    What is My Sewer Bill Based On?

    Sewer bills are based on the amount of water used by a property. Your sewer bill is typically included as a separate line item on the water bill sent by your water provider.

    How is My Sewer Bill Calculated?

    Your sewer bill consists of two separate charges:

    • Minimum base charge
    • Commodity charge
    NOTE: Industrial customers may be charged additional fees to cover costs associated with their discharges (see Industrial Customer section below).

    Minimum Base Charge

    The minimum base charge is a service fee applied to all residential, commercial, and industrial customers based on the size of the property's water meter.

    The minimum base charge includes the first 3 Ccf of water used each month, based on 30 days of service. If there are greater or less than 30 days of service, the amount is prorated.

    See the minimum base charge chart below.

    NOTE: This information is valid as of January 1, 2018. If you need rate information for 2017, please view the 2015 Rate Schedule Flyer under Downloads.

    Minimum Base Charges for Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Customers2
    Meter Size (Inches)
    Monthly Bills ($)
    5/8
    39.12
    3/4
    50.44
    1
    69.15
    1 1/2
    117.50
    2
    166.44
    3
    427.16
    4
    707.43
    6
    1397.72
    8
    2085.59
    10
    2,786.92
    12
    3,217.75

    Commodity Charge Rates

    The commodity charge is applied to all residential, commercial, and industrial customers who use more than 3 Ccf of water each month.

    The commodity charge for residential customers is based on their average usage of water during February, March, and April - known as the "winter period."3Commercial and industrial customers do not have a winter period. They are billed on their usage of water during the actual billing period.

    The commodity charge is calculated by multiplying the cubic feet of water used (beyond the monthly allowance of 3 Ccf) by the established sewer rate.

    See the commodity charge charts below.
    Commodity Charges for Residential, Commercial, and Industrial Customers 2
    First 3 Ccf
    Included in the minimum base charge
    Greater than 3 Ccf, up to 50 Ccf
    $5.879 per Ccf
    More than 50 Ccf
    $4.701 per Ccf


    Industrial Customer Rates and Charges

    Industrial customers may be charged additional fees to cover costs associated with their discharges, including:

    • Surcharge rates
    • Industrial pretreatment charges
    Surcharge Rates

    For customers having high strength waste discharge, the Surcharge is computed on the following basis:

    Surcharge Rates
    Suspended Solids (SS)
    $0.002756 per Ccf for each mg/l of SS strength above 300 mg/l
    Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD)
    $0.004707 per Ccf for each mg/l of BOD strength above 240 mg/l
    Nitrogenous Oxygen Demand (NOD)
    $0.004122 per Ccf for each mg/l of Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen (TKN) strength above 25 mg/l

    Provided, however, that to the extent the strength of a pollutant is less than eighty percent (80%) of the corresponding value for normal strength sewage, a credit shall be allowed as an offset against surcharge otherwise due. The credit shall be calculated by multiplying the herein above specified surcharge rate for the pollutant in question times the difference between actual pollutant concentration in mg/l and eighty percent (80%) of the corresponding value for normal sewage. No credit shall be allowed in excess of surcharge otherwise due.

    Industrial Pretreatment Charges

    All users required to apply for and obtain a wastewater discharge permit or which are subject to federal pretreatment standards, as specified in the MSD Rules and Regulations, shall be subject to the payment of a pretreatment charge(s), as determined by the Director. Said pretreatment charge(s) shall be sufficient to recover, in whole or in part, the costs for the MSD Pretreatment Program including investigations, record keeping, administration, and monitoring of industrial waste charges to the system. Each industrial user shall pay a pretreament charge(s) as follows:

    Industrial Pretreatment Charges
    Annual Fee

    $2,889 per annum

    Monitoring Charge
    $17,912 maximum per monitoring event


    Notes & Definitions

    1Ccf

    1 Ccf = 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons

    2OM&R Portion

    Public Law 95-217 requires notice of the "OM&R Portion" of the rate for both the minimum base charge and the commodity charge. OM&R includes operation, maintenance, and replacement costs. By definition, replacements are those necessary to extend the life of facilities and not the total replacements of the entire system. For detailed information on OM&R costs, please view the most current Rate Schedule Flyer under Downloads.

    3Winter Period for Residential Customers (Single and Two-Family Homes)

    Many residential customers (single and two-family homes) use greater amounts of water during the warm, summer months (e.g., watering lawns, gardening), much of which never enters the sewer system. Since sewer bills are based on water usage, MSD uses a customer’s average water consumption during February, March, and April of each year as the maximum water usage used to calculate the monthly commodity charge for May-January. See the example below for how to calculate the maximum water usage. If a customer uses less water during the billing period than the maximum set during the winter period, the account is charged for the lower usage figure. If a customer uses more water during a billing period than the maximum set during the winter period, the account is only charged for the maximum set during the winter period.

    New accounts without a history of winter period consumption are billed at a maximum default of 8 Ccf for single-family homes and 12 Ccf for two-family homes. A new winter period maximum water consumption rate is established each year during the winter period.

    Example of How to Calculate Maximum Water Usage During the Winter Period
    Example Consumption
    Days of Service (DOS)
    February: 8 Ccf
    28 DOS
    March: 6 Ccf
    30 DOS
    April: 7 Ccf
    31 DOS
    TOTALS: 21 Ccf
    89 DOS

    Calculation: 21 Ccf / 89 DOS x 30 DOS = 7.078 Ccf (maximum water usage) for May-January.


    Note: Commercial customers do not have a "winter period."
    Commercial customers are charged based on the water used during a billing period that is subject to a sewerage charge. MSD will consider application, fully supported, for adjustment due to non-sewered water use. All well water and water reaching the system from other sources will be considered in the base charge. First billings after January 9 will be billed proportionately at the previous year's rates and the new year's rates.


     

    Contact Us

    Report a Sewer Backup:
    (513) 352-4900 24/7 or online

    Customer Call Center:
    (513) 352-4900 24/7

    Project Customer Service:
    (513) 557-3594

    Development Services:
    (513) 244-1330

    Media Inquiries:
    (513) 557-7095

    Email:
    MSD.Communications@cincinnati-oh.gov

    MSD Mailing Address:
    1600 Gest St.
    Cincinnati, Ohio 45204

    MSD Facilities and Directions

    Adobe Reader

    The free Adobe Reader is required for some downloads.