City of Burlington, Vermont City of Burlington, Vermont

Water Quality, Main Breaks & Billing: 863-4501
All other: 863-9094
Contact the Department of Public Works

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Burlington Water

Burlington is fortunate to have such a quality source in Lake Champlain. Water is pumped from over 4,000 feet off shore at a depth of over 40 feet and then processed at the Water Treatment Plant.

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Yes! Burlington meets or exceeds all the federal and state drinking water standards for water quality.  We produce a consumer confidence report each year that summarizes the detectable contaminants and compares our results to Federal and State standards. For questions regarding water quality please call 863-4501 and ask to speak to one of our friendly Water Plant Operators.

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The City of Burlington charges Water Resources (and other utilities) a franchise fee based on 3.5% of our gross sales and services revenues.  The fee is in exchange for our use of the City streets and rights-of-way for the utility pipe network and related structures.  This is allowed by City Charter and you can review both the ordinance (begin with 27-119) and the MOU executed in 1990 that increased the fee.

Prior to 7/1/17 this fee was incorporated into our rate structure and not shown separately on the bills.  However, we strive to be as transparent as possible with our rate development process, so it has been removed from the rates and is now a standalone charge.  The 3.5% is calculated on your current charges and is inclusive any service fees charged (e.g., returned payments, final reading requests).  Our Stormwater utility is exempt from the franchise fee.      

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Congratulations!  Burlington is a great city and if you have plans to sell or purchase then there a few things necessary to ensure a smooth transition of service.  It is very common for the Water Resources bill to be included in the items paid at closing but we need to know when that will occur.  The Final Reading Request Form must be completed by the seller or their representative and returned to us for scheduling.  There is a $30.00 fee for this service and it will be added to the final bill.  Unfortunately, if we don’t receive this form then there will be no final bill issued and this can result in confusion over whom owes what through the sale date.  A change in ownership does not absolve the balance and the new owner would inherit any unpaid balances.  We do not require a deposit nor do we report to credit agencies but a delinquent Water Resources bill can result in service termination or a lien being placed on the property.  Please be sure a final reading has been requested, received and paid.       

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If you are experiencing a sewer back up in your home, please call the Street Division at 863-9094 to report a possible sewer line plug.  They will investigate the sewer main closest to your home and verify that it is clear or if it's plugged they will fix it immediately.  If the City's main is clear then you would need to contact a private business to snake your sewer lateral and any interior pipes, at your own expense.

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Burlington has three wastewater plants that treat raw sewage and they are located on Riverside Avenue, North Avenue Extension and Lavalley Lane.  We treat domestic and industrial sewage to levels that ensure public health and the biological integrity of the waters that receive discharges from these facilities.  The end product is highly treated water which must meet stringent federal standards.  Burlington is also unique in that stormwater for much of the City is collected and treated at the Main Plant on Lavalley Lane prior to discharge into Lake Champlain.  

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In 2014, the City partnered with MuniciPAY to process any credit card or echeck payments via an online portal and the service fee charged goes directly to them.  We decided to not absorb the cost of the service fee because less than 2% of our customers use that payment method.  We believe that asking all rate payers to absorb a charge that most are not utilizing isn't equitable.  If you would prefer a free payment option then we welcome you to pay in cash, check or set up automatic debit.       

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Good news! Water Resources has an online portal where you can opt for paperless billing; you can even review your consumption and payment history too!  You will need a valid email address and a recent bill to set up your account. 

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The most common reason is because of an undetected leak somewhere in your home but other reasons could include the time of year (summer watering, holiday guests), the number of days in the billing cycle or a change in the number of people in your household.  If you've eliminated all possible reasons then take a peek at your water meter (typically located in the basement along the wall closest to the ROW) when no water is being used and watch the leak indicator.  This is a small red triangle (or diamond) left of center and it spins when the meter is recording usage, so it should be still if no water is being used. If it is turning then there is water being used somewhere and likely places include a toilet, faucet or outside faucet spigot and you would want to have that repair immediately.    

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If a bill is paid after the due date there is an interest charge of 1% per month on the past due balance.

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There are several reasons why this may be occurring, please review the most common explanations below.

  • Does your house have a galvanized service line? These pipes experience build up over time (tuberculation) and eventually severely restrict the flow of water to and through your home.  Please contact Customer Service at  863-4501 to schedule a free appointment to assess your pipe condition.
  • Have you recently been working in the basement by the water meter? Sometimes the valve on your meter can be nudged or bumped and this will restrict flow. Please be sure it is wide open to restore proper flow!
  • Do you have a pressure reducing valve?  High PSI can wear on appliances and you may have installed a pressure reducing valve to help combat this.  Please double check the setting to ensure it's not too low. 
  • Have you confirmed if our Field Service crews are in your neighborhood?  We are often doing routine maintenance (or emergency repairs) in the City and this may cause low pressure.  Please check in with Customer Service to see where our crews are today. 
  • Have you noticed a Fire Sprinkler company in your neighborhood?  You may have a neighbor having work done on their sprinkler system and companies are required to notify us. Please review our Fire Sprinkler Notifications to see if someone is working nearby. 

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Great question! Vermont State Law requires anyone digging on public or private land to have the utility lines marked.  Digsafe is a free service (paid for by member utilities) that notifies utility companies to go mark their lines which helps avoid costly mistakes and outages.  What do the colors mean? Review this brochure to find out! Need more information?  Visit digsafe.com for the whole scoop and remember to call 1-888-344-7233 to dig safely! 

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