Amador Water Agency

Frequently Asked Questions

Bills are due on receipt and are considered past due after the billing date. A 10% penalty for late payment is assessed after the billing date and is subject to disconnection. Payments can be made with cash, check or Visa/Mastercard/Discover at The Agency Office: 12800 Ridge Road, Sutter Creek, California. In addition, you can pay with Visa/Mastercard/Discover over the phone by calling (209) 223-3018.

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Yes, the Agency now accepts Visa, Master Card and Discover Card at the Agency Office or you may use the card by calling (209) 223-3018.

Automatic bill payment is authorization that you give your bank to deduct the payment for your water and/or wastewater bill from your bank account. After you enroll in the program, the bank pays your water bill automatically from that point on, until you cancel your enrollment in the program.

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If you do not have sufficient funds to pay your bill in full, Amador Water Agency may offer an extension. If you need a payment extension you will need to come in to the office. We will evaluate the situation and if you receive an extension you will need to sign a promise agreement to make payment by the extended date.

Please call our office representative on receipt of the shut-off notice to make an appointment to review your account to see if a payment arrangement will help in your situation.

A unit, as it applies to the water rate is 100 cubic feet of water.  100 cubic feed of water is equivalent to 748 gallons.  Therefore 1 unit equals 748 gallons; 2 units equals 1,496 gallons, etc.  Much like gas and electric meters, water meters read left to right.  The water meters used by the Agency are calibrated to measure volume in cubic feet (12 in. X 12 in. X 12 in.).  The dials of the meter read in an industry standard of on ccf equating to 100 cubic feet or 748 gallons (one cubic feet is equal to 7.48 gallons).

The service charge is intended to collect the Agency’s fixed costs.  Fixed costs do not vary with the level of sales, while variable costs change proportionately with sales.

Fixed costs are those related expenses that generally do not vary with the volume of water used.  The components included in the fixed service charge include:

  • Source of Supply – obtaining and storing our raw water supply.
  • Water Transmission – costs for the Agency’s untreated water transmission system including canals and major pipelines
  • Water Treatment – costs for treatment plant operators, State Health Fees, debt service for plant upgrades.
  • Water Distribution – costs associated to distribute the treated water including storage, pumping, distribution pipelines.
  • Customer Expense –  costs associated with serving customers, including reading meters and billing, customer service, Board expenses, insurances and other activities

Fixed costs include salaries and benefits to perform all the above activities by Agency personnel.  System O&M costs, debt service and fixed assets.

Variable Costs (Commodity Charge)  are variable costs that vary with the amount of actual water consumption.  The components included in the variable commodity include:

  • Energy costs for pumping
  • Chemicals used for water treatment and general plant maintenance.

In order to establish or reestablish credit with the Agency, residential, commercial and industrial services are required to pay a deposit. The deposit is amount is $100.00. If the account is an industrial account, the deposit is twice the estimated monthly bill but not less than the above stated $100.00.

Any notices of disconnection (shut-off) shall be sent to the customer of record and, if the customer is not the owner, the owner of record.  A charge ($10.00) shall be added to the customer’s account each time that the Agency is required to place a door hanger at the customer’s service location.  In addition, the customer will be charged penalty fees in the amount of 10%, as well as interest at ½%/monthly.  If the service is shut off, the customer will be required to bring their account current and pay a turn on fee in the amount of $40-$140, depending on the day of the week and time of day.

The Water Agency’s meters are read monthly.  The date varies depending on your read cycle and location.  Generally between 28 and 31 days.

Call the Water Agency Customer Service Department before you call another service professional.

Any leak between the meter and your house is your responsibility. You may need a plumber to help you. When it is fixed call us for a possible credit on your water bill. AWA might observe higher than normal usage and contact you.  AWA may assist by turning water off at the meter while the repair is made.

Call “USA Digs” at (800) 482-8998.

Please call Amador Water Agency at 223-3018.

Pressures vary throughout our service area. Call the office for the pressure at your service area.  Typical newer systems have pressures between 40 -70 psi.

You can visit our office, call for information or download the application from this website. See Water Service or Wastewater Service Page for more details.

PRV means Pressure Relief Valve.  PRVs may be required in some areas due to high pressure.  It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the PRV to prevent damage to the property owner’s plumbing.

You will need to come in or call the office for authorization and fee payment to pull water from a metered hydrant.  Unauthorized use of a fire hydrant is illegal and considered water theft and is a misdemeanor under state law for which the offender may be prosecuted under California Penal Code Section 625.   If you see someone drawing water from a hydrant, please notify the office immediately.

Annually, the Amador Water Agency inspects each septic tank and takes measurements of the Scum and Sludge layers. Agency personnel will notify the homeowner when maintenance and cleaning activities are necessary.

When the Amador Water Agency notifies you of a need for maintenance, have the work completed in a timely manner. Delays in maintenance will only cause damage to your septic system, possible backups into your home or business and possibly cause damage to the community system. Whether it be cleaning a filter or screen, or having your tank pumped, avoid unnecessary future costs and have the work done promptly.

Damage to the septic tank can occur from traffic or wheel loads on the system. No vehicles should be driven over septic tank systems. No driveways, concrete surfaces or asphalt should be placed over collection lines or the septic tank.

Contrary to popular belief, septic tanks are not maintenance-free. However, properly designed septic tanks will function well for many years – as long as they were installed correctly and are not overloaded with water, household grease, or solids from garbage disposals.

Typically, septic tanks are made of pre-cast concrete. Often these tanks are composed of three or more parts: access lids, internal baffles, and filter screens. The baffles, or tees must be in good condition to keep the floating scum and grease from leaving the tank and plugging the soil in the leachfield. ln addition to the floating scum, the tanks also contain liquid sewage, which eventually flows to the leachfield. Over a period of time, a sludge layer forms in the bottom of the tank. The sludge consists of the solids that remain after the anaerobic bacteria in the tank break down the solid wastes. The natural process of anaerobic digestion normally does quite well on its own, so no chemicals, enzymes, yeast or other additives should be routinely fed into the tanks.

There are several conditions that can hinder the efficiency and life of your septic system.

Tree roots can enter septic tank systems and cause plugging. Collection lines and tanks should not be placed near trees, and trees should not be planted near collection lines and tanks.

Preventative maintenance is the best approach for septic tanks. Here are some preventative measures to extend the life of your septic system and the community’s wastewater system as a whole.

  1. Monitor sludge and scum levels in the septic tank on an annual basis. (This is done by the Amador Water Agency)
  2. Clean the screen or filter cartridge every six-months. (This can be done by a septic specialist or the homeowner)
  3. Minimize the amounts of grease, solids from garbage disposals, chemicals and other materials from entering the septic system. To the extent possible, throw as much as you can in the trash. Allow cooking oils and fats to cool and solidify before placing them in the trash (an old coffee can or crock works well ).
  4. Reduce water flow into your septic system. Never empty water from downspouts into the septic tank. Direct surface water away from the leachfield.
  5. Plant grass over the septic tank to reduce erosion and to absorb moisture. However, do not place plants or structures over tank lids.
  6. Avoiding traffic or wheel loads over the septic tank area. Do not put driveways over septic lines or tanks.
  7. Removing trees from the septic area to avoid tree root invasion.
  8. Get help when you suspect a problem.

Items that you should not put into the garbage disposal, rinse down the drain, or flush down the toilet:

  • Coffee grounds, egg shells and seafood shell,s high-fat foods (cheeses, ice cream, cookie dough and batters, meats)
  • fruit and vegetable skins
  • cooking fats – this includes butter, oil, grease, and lard
  • fat trimmings and skin from meats
  • automotive oils and grease
  • hair and wax
  • feminine-hygiene products and condoms
  • diapers, baby wipes, Q-tips and cotton balls
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper that is not septic-friendly
  • flushable facial tissues and wipes
  • cigarette butts
  • harsh chemicals, paints and varnishes

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Inorganic chemicals such as those that cause hardness may precipitate (form a solid, and settle out) as ice melts. This is not toxic.

If you are bothered by gummy, curd-like deposits in your bathtub, or a hard, white scale on your cooking utensils, a water softener might be right for you. Many wells in the area have hard water. Only buy from reputable dealers that will keep your equipment serviced for you.

This is a personal decision. If you are connected to a public water supply, your water already meets federal requirements for safety. Some people do not like the taste of their water and might consider installing a point-of entry (POE) treatment system. However, these systems require maintenance could possibly cause problems for you.

Some types of POE’s are:

  • Particulate filters: these remove most of the rust and manganese particles. Adsorption filters: commonly called charcoal or activated charcoal, these are not filters at all. The charcoal attracts organic chemicals and binds them.
  • Oxidation/filtration systems: these will help with iron and rotten egg odors.  Water softening/ion exchange: Exchange ions that cause hardness for some that don’t. Reverse osmosis: remove nitrates, metals, and hardness ions. Produce small quantities of water.
  • Distillation units: boil the water and condense the steam. Remove inorganic and organic chemicals, fluoride, etc. Takes a lot of energy to make a little water.

Hard water is caused by the presence of two naturally occurring elements: calcium and magnesium. Hard water makes it “hard”, or difficult to make a lather with soap. Soft water indicates the relative absence of hardness, and is easy to make a lather. Surface-water facilities are 12.1 ppm (mg/L) Ground-water facilities range from 20 (LaMel) – 73 (CSA3) ppm (mg/L) Classification mg/l or ppm grains/gal  Soft 0 – 17.1 0 – 1  Slightly hard 17.1 – 60 1 – 3.5  Moderately hard 60 – 120 3.5 – 7.0  Hard 120 – 180 7.0 – 10.5  Very Hard 180 & over 10.5 & over

Amador Water System = Soft CAWP Systems= Soft La Mel = Slightly Hard CSA3 Well 6 (73) Moderately Hard CSA3 Well 9 (55) Slightly Hard CSA3 Well 12A (63) Moderately Hard

This is a personal decision. Remember that public water systems are under closer scrutiny by the government than water bottlers are. Also, bottled water may cost as much as 1000 times as much as water from your local water purveyor. Check the label carefully some of the meaningful terms are:

  • Artesian: Water that came from an aquifer that is overlain with rock stratum that is not an aquifer, causing the water to rise in the well.
  • Groundwater: water form an aquifer not under the influence of surface water; water found on ground surface such as a creek, stream, or lake.
  • Aquifer: Water yielding rock formations or strata.
  • Mineral water: Water having not less than 250 milligrams per liter total dissolved solids, originating from a well.
  • Purified or demineralized: Water that has undergone dome treatment to remove contaminants.
  • Sparkling water: carbonation added.
  • Spring water: surface water emanating directly from a groundwater source.

No. Bottled water, like any food, has a shelf life, especially since most bottled water has no or very little chlorine. If you are storing water for an emergency, it’s best to use cold tapwater in clean, plastic bottles. This water should be changed out frequently, since chlorine will dissipate slowly, and microbes will grow.

This number varies greatly due to factors such as irrigation. It has been estimated that a person will use 50 gallons of water per day for eating and bathing. In the United States, the average water consumption per capita is about 180 gallons, which includes all agricultural and industrial uses. AWA customers use approximately 250-400 gallons per day per household on an average day.  This may double on hot days especially when irrigating or watering lawns. If your metered water consumption rises unexpectedly, you may have a leak.  If you suspect a leak, call the Water Agency for the methods used to determine if there is a leak or for direction on how to check for the possibility of a leak.

If you are on the community sewer system, the water and all the waste carried in it becomes wastewater, and travels down pipes in the collection system, to be treated and discharged. If you are on a septic tank, wastewater goes into a septic tank, then into a leach field, and then into the groundwater, or, it may be drawn into the root system of plants and discharged into the atmosphere through transpiration. Water is used over and over again and circulates through the hydrologic cycle.

That depends on who your water purveyor is, but, in the U. S., the average cost of water is about $2 per thousand gallons. Contact your water purveyor for a list of water and sewer rates.

The natural properties of water make holes in the metal walls of a water tank. Eventually, the holes will rust through the wall of the tank, causing it to leak and fail. Some areas are served by hard water, which causes a hard scale to form around the heating units, causing them to burn out. This whitish deposit is called lime, or calcium carbonate.

First, let a gallon or so of water run down the drain, in case there might be some residual copper or zinc from your household plumbing. This water could be saved for watering plants, as a conservation measure. Next, fill the aquarium to the desired level, making sure the water falls at least three feet into the tank. This adds oxygen to the water. Let the water reach room temperature before adding fish. Also, you may want to consult your pet shop about removing chlorine from the water.

Most Amador Water Agency services are metered; that is, there is a water meter in the line from the water main in the street or easement to your house. All water going to your home passes through this meter. The meter is located in a box in the ground with a lid. If you want to read your own meter, contact Amador Water Agency to find out your meter number, and other details on how to read your own meter.

Amador Water Agency has a program to regularly check the meters in the system for accuracy. If you have a sudden change in your consumption for no apparent reason (out of town, houseguests, watering the lawn or garden) contact AWA. We are only human and sometimes we make mistakes. Usually, when a meter fails, it begins to run slower, not faster.  A sudden increase in usage may indicate a leak is present.  Even a dripping faucet or leaky toilet will cause a significant increase in water usage.   A ½ gallon per minute leak will accumulate 720 gallons per day or about 21,600 gallons per month.   A dripping faucet could amount to 25 gallons per day or about ½ of what a typical person uses for consumption and bathing.

Toilet flushing is the biggest single use in the home. Most toilets use between 4 and 6 gallons per flush. Not counting lawn watering, the next largest use is the bathtub or shower. Very little is used for drinking (about 3 percent).

Yes, it is possible to save on water consumption by displacing some of the water used for flushing. Since bricks can crumble and damage the flushing mechanism, it’s probably a better idea to use a plastic or glass container. Experiment to see if the remaining volume of water will adequately flush water down the toilet.  Newer homes may have low flow toilets.  Check with the manufacturer of your toilet.

Practice water conservation in your home! Get everyone in your household educated on how to conserve water. Get in the habit of conserving water. Amador Water Agency has more information on conservation available at the office. Call us at the office at 209-223-3018 or come by, at 12800 Ridge Road, Sutter Creek, California.