Minimum Charge

My Property Isn’t Using Water, Why Did I Receive a Bill? 

A minimum charge, sometimes called an access fee or readiness to serve fee is considered a best practice within the utility industry.  It provides revenue stability and predictability, but more importantly it reflects the cost of service.  Every utility incurs fixed costs to ensure all customers have functioning equipment and access on demand to the specific service (e.g., water, gas, electricity, etc.).  Those costs stay the same even when the service isn’t being utilized which is why customers receive a bill even when the property is vacant. 

In Burlington, all water meters sized at 1” and larger receive a minimum charge for water and sewer.  The minimum charge includes a consumption allowance in cubic feet that is variable according to the meter size.  The minimum charge is applied for all usage under the allowance threshold, and when the allowance is exceeded then the bill includes charges for the actual volume as measured by the meter.  The minimum charge is authorized under Burlington City Ordinance (BCO) sections 31-48, 31-64.  

Meter Size  Consumption Allowance (CF) 
5/8" -
3/4" -
1" 512
1.5" 1,025
2" 1,637
3" 3,273
4" 5,592
6" 10,228
8" 23,525


How Can I Eliminate or Reduce the Minimum Charge?

The minimum charge can be eliminated if the water meter is removed and the service shut off at the curb stop.  This is common if the property is used seasonally or there is an expected period of prolonged vacancy.  Property owners can also request an evaluation to determine if the existing meter is eligible to be reduced in size.  This is a viable option for properties that have experienced a change in use (e.g., manufacturing to office space) or significant renovations that eliminated flow demand.  In order to determine if your meter is eligible, we need a count of all plumbing fixtures including size and type by area served.  More detailed information can be found under the Metering section of Connection Requirements.