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Water FAQs


My water bill is too high, what should I do?
Contact the Water Department. The Water Department’s street address is 1000 Commonwealth Avenue. (617) 796-1040. The Treasurer/Collector does not read meters, determine the water/sewer bills, or adjust water bills. Unpaid bills are subject to 6% interest per Mass General Law and City of Newton ordinance. The Treasury office merely collects what that the Water Department bills. We do not adjust bills.

What is an MTU?

The Meter Transmission Unit (MTU)  is the grey fixture on the outside of your home, which is wired to your meter.  The MTU transmits the reads from your home to a main receiver so that the MCM software can provide the reads for billing.

What is the meaning of A, C, V, E and M printed next to the Current Meter Reading?
The A next to the meter reading means that his is an automative reading trasnsmitted to City Hall, C is Customer Read, V is a visual read by a City Technician, E is an estimate and M is a manual adjusted read, Occasionally, the meter reading equipment does not transmit a valid read and Billing Office estiamtes a bill. However, if you have more than two estimates in a row, you should contact the Service Department at 617-796-1640 Mon-Fri 7 Am-3PM to make an appointment to have your rtm and meter connection checked.

How do I obtain a copy of billing or payment information on a Tax or Water bill?
Contact Treasury/Tax Collection A request for a duplicate bill will not change your address for future bills. Tax bill address changes must be submitted to the Assessing department. Water bill address changes to the Water/Sewer department. Contact the respective department for their formal requirements. Treasury does not maintain address databases. Do not send address changes with your payment.

Where is my water meter?
In the basement of your house or in a utility closet at the water main shut off. In some cases, the meters are in an outdoor manhole. It is a brass colored pipe meter with an odometer type read.

Can the interest on my water bill be stopped or removed?
By operation of law we must charge and collect interest at the rate of 6% per annum on all outstanding water balances.

Why is my bill so high?
You may have used more water than you realized, especially if it is during the summer months. In addition, your last bill might have been estimated, or there may be a leak in your home. One way to verify if the bill is correct is to read the water meter. If the reading is equal to or appropriately greater than the read to which you were billed, then the water was used. If the read is less than the billed read, please call the Billing Office at 617-796-1040 Mon-Fri 8:30-5:00, with the actual read from your meter. This would have been the result of a bad electronic reading.

How can I tell if the meter is broken?
If a meter is broken, it slows down and then eventually stops. Industry experience indicates that a "positive displacement" meter runs sluggish and will stop registering use. It is impossible for a meter to speed up. It can only register when water passes through it.

How do I obtain a refund of my water credit balance?
If you have a credit balance on your water account it will be used with the next billing. Should you require a refund, see our Refund Policy for instructions. If you have a collection or payment issue, contact the Treasury/Tax Collector’s office.

How do I obtain a Final Read?
The Seller or a representative for the Seller calls 617-796-1040 two or three days before closing with a meter read and the name of the new owner. We produce an Interim Statement that will be ready the next day after 12:00 noon. The Interim Statement is calculated from the last read date to the day they call it in. The amount reflected on this statement will be a part of the amount that will appear on the new owner's next bill. Interim Statements are current amounts only; this does not show any overdue amounts, which you would obtain from the Treasury Department. We do not shut off the water; we just transfer the account to the new owner's name. If at closing you do not receive an interim statement, we encourage the new property owner to call us so we may update our records. There is no charge for this service.

What is SL, WL, SL INT, and WL INT?
These acronyms stand for Sewer Lien, Water Lien, Sewer Lien Interest, and Water Lien Interest. When water bills are not paid in full and on time, past due charges are moved from the water account billing system and put to the real estate billing system. Mortgage lenders are notified these liens via the electronic billing file they receive. The interest rate on real estate bills is 14% whereas the interest charged on past due water is 6%. For more information, see FAQ: What are the interest rates for past due bills?

What must I do to renew or install a new water and sewer line and where do I go to apply for this service?
Applications for a renewal or new service for Water and Sewer lines can be obtained at the Customer Service Department in the Rotunda entry at City Hall. You file an application for an "estimated" amount of the cost of doing the replacement or new service. With applications for new service, please provide a plot plan and have the Engineering Department approve the location address and provide the Parcel I.D. (the Section, Block & Lot). The application will not be processed without Engineering approval. The application then goes to the Service Department to be estimated and is sent back to the billing office to be processed. You will then receive an "estimate", which must be paid in advance to be placed on the list to schedule the work. For Water Services, you must hire a private contractor for excavation of the trench.

What are Elderly O and Elderly W?
Printed on everyone's bill are the words "Elderly O and Elderly W". If you are over 65, own the property as a primary residence, and have an income of less than $60,000 annually, and have been approved for either of these discounts by the Assessor's office, the amount discounted will appear next to these words. It is a 30% discount off your water bill.

Why is my water discolored or rusty? Is there anything I can do to clear the water?
Discolored or rusty water may occur as a result of a few different events. If a fire hydrant has been opened for routine testing ("flushing,"usually performed in the month of October), or if City street sweepers have opened the hydrant to fill their trucks, residents nearby may experience dirty or discolored water. In addition, if a main water or sewer line develops a leak, or construction is ongoing near you, you may also experience dirty or discolored water as a result of the main water line being shut down, then brought back online, stirring up sediment in the course of this process.

We recommend that you do not run your hot water immediately, since this will draw the dirty water into your hot water tank. To clear the water, we suggest you run the cold water for a time (10 minutes at most, at one time), ideally later in the day when other surrounding residents will also be doing the same - running the cold water to eliminate the dirty water from the system - since the more homeowners run their cold water, the faster it will flush through the piping and clear up for everyone.

If you notice dirty water in the course of washing clothes, DO NOT PUT THE CLOTHES IN THE DRYER, as this will set stains from the discolored water. The Water/Sewer Business Office has a supply of a rust and stain remover called Iron Out, which you may obtain for free by picking up a bottle at Customer Service Dept in City Hall's main rotunda while supplies last. Please call ahead to confirm that this is still available: (617) 796-1040.