Understanding Your Water Usage and Bill

The purpose of a Municipal Utility District (MUD) is to provide water, sewage, drainage, and other services within the MUD boundaries. Water utilities need to charge customers to build and maintain infrastructure—the water storage tanks, treatment plants, and underground pipes that deliver water to homes and businesses, and to pay for the workers who provide you with water service day or night.  NWHCMUD19 is part of the North Harris County Regional Water Authority (NHCRWA) and utilizes water wells to provide water to the District.

The NHCRWA became the single entity empowered to negotiate for a secure, long-term, reliable, quality supply of wholesale drinking water for all the independent neighborhoods, municipal utility districts, small municipalities, and permitted well owners within its boundaries and they do so by imposing pumpage fees to all water users.  Most people do not know that drinking water is a limited and precious resource.  Water wells are fed by the three major aquifers in the Texas upper Gulf Coast area. Over the last thirty years, the water in these aquifers has been declining, making it more difficult and expensive to develop ground water resources. Municipal Utility Districts in the Houston area have been required to make a conversion from ground water to surface water.  The North Harris County Regional Water Authority, The Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District and the West Harris County Regional Water Authority were created for the purpose of developing and bringing surface water to the areas that they serve.

The District does not have a general manager or any other full-time employee, but contracts for certain services.  Day to day operations are contracted out to H2O Innovation.  To help you understand their billing process, the procedures are as follows:  Each month an H2O Innovation reading specialist records your water meter reading.  The H2O Innovation Customer Care Department keys in your reading and reviews this entry for unusual usage.  The water consumption is then processed on the basis of the MUD19 District’s rate order provided to H2O Innovation.

There are three sets of charges on your water bill. The charges are broken down by water usage, sewer fees, and RWA Pumping Fees.  When totaled, this gives you your total amount due.

Water — This is a flat base and then tiered rate based on the amount of water used.  On your bill, you will find how many days in this billing cycle and the reads we got off your meter previously and currently. You will also see how many gallons of water you used during that cycle.  Water Rate:

  • 0-10 K $10.00 flat
  • 10-20 K $2.00/1000
  • 20-30 K $3.00/1000
  • 30-40 K $4.00/1000
  • Thereafter $5.00/1000

Sewer — This is also a flat and tiered rate collected to offset the fixed costs of running the wastewater system, for collecting and transporting sewage, the treating and safe disposal of the effluent and the maintenance, repair and replacement of the sewage system.  Sewer Rate:

  • 0-12K $25.00.
  • Thereafter $.50/1000

RWA Fee — The NHCRWA Fee on your water bill is a pass-through fee imposed by the North Harris County Regional Water Authority on all water pumped from wells within its jurisdiction. The RWA Pumping Fee Rates effective April 1, 2018:

  • Groundwater – $3.40/1,000 gallons (2016 fee was $2.40; 2017 fee was $2.90)
  • Surface Water – $3.85/1,000 gallons (2016 fee was $2.85; 2017 fee was $3.35))

Understanding Water/Sewer Fees:  Many utilities use a combination of a fixed fee (base) and a variable fee (volume) for their water rate structure.  The water and sewer fees on your bill reflect our cost to treat and deliver water throughout the district, for running daily operations, to cover costs for maintaining existing infrastructure and repaying loans and bonds used to build that infrastructure; as well as the work the District has to do to be in compliance with State and Federal government regulations.

Understanding the RWA Fee:  The North Harris County Regional Water Authority was created by the 76th Texas Legislature and their primary assignment is to develop and implement a strategy for complying with the Harris-Galveston Subsidence District’s Regulatory Plan that requires a reduction in groundwater usage to no more than 20 percent of total water demand by the year 2030.  Since the Authority is not a taxing entity, funding for our future water supply and the infrastructure through which to deliver it is being accomplished through the sale of revenue bonds, and paid for by imposing groundwater pumping fees to all water users.

While the groundwater reduction goals of the initial 2010 mandate have been met, the challenge continues, however, with some of the biggest hurdles still ahead.  It will take an estimated one billion plus dollars to pay the Authority’s share of projects to meet the next (2025) conversion deadline.  In addition to the cost of purchasing the surface water from the City of Houston, there are shared transmission, operations and maintenance expenses to be paid. Some routine water facility expenses – chemicals and energy, for example – have spiraled in recent years. All of these factors – coupled with the cost of constructing the 2025 system – will impact the cost of water.  At this time there is no schedule for converting part of the MUD 19 ground water system to a combination of ground water and surface water.