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Commercial Customers FAQ

Click on a topic below to view the answers.

How much water may I use?

Customers are allowed to use the amount of water capacity purchased through certification. Each customer has a set number of Equivalent Residential Units (“ERU”), in which 1 ERU provides for 10,000 gallons of maximum consumption per month. Amounts above that limit are subject to High Demand Charges. Those customers who exceed the applicable use limits and consistently place high demands or a capacity burden on the Authority’s system will be required to pay Supplemental Availability Fees.

The number of ERU’s and high demand thresholds will appear on your monthly bill. For questions about an existing account, please contact Rich Gard, Utility Billing Supervisor, at (703) 396-6495

What if I don’t know exactly how much water I plan to use?

The Service Authority encourages customers to estimate their consumption as accurately as possible as inaccurate estimates may result in additional Availability Fees or High Demand Charges. Owners and tenants should familiarize themselves with how Developer and User Fees apply in order to manage their water and/or sewer accounts as cost effectively as possible.

The Service Authority must rely on customers to provide their estimated use, as the amount of water each customer uses depends on a number of variables specific to the nature of their business. The Service Authority will review the customer’s usage estimate for reasonableness and will also determine if the requested meter is sized appropriately for the expected use. The Service Authority can provide general guidance about a customer’s estimated use based on historical experience however makes no representation regarding how much water a specific customer will actually use. The amount of water a customer originally estimates they will use can vary significantly from the amount of water the customer ultimately uses for a number of reasons, such as a change in business demand, ownership or tenant changes, etc. Therefore, the Service Authority reserves the right, at any time, to seek supplemental availability fees when water demand exceeds the amount of capacity purchased, regardless of change in property ownership. Customers continue to have the option to purchase additional capacity and increase their thresholds by applying for recertification through the Engineering Division.

What if my water needs are significantly greater than my sewer needs?

Customers applying for water and sewer services pay for equivalent capacity for each service, as all water used has the potential to enter the sewer system. Customers planning to use water that will not enter the sewer system should consider a water-only account. Water only accounts are connected to the water system, but have no connection to the sewer system. Capacity can be purchased separately for a water-only account. The Service Authority’s Engineering Division will be happy to discuss this option with customers.

Why does the Service Authority charge Commercial High Demand Charges?

The Service Authority’s water system is designed and constructed to supply drinking water on demand. As the County grows, the Service Authority expands the capacity of its water system to meet the needs of additional customers. New customers pay an Availability Fee at the time of connection based on the cost of expanding the system to meet those needs.
When commercial customers use more than their allocated water capacity, this reduces available capacity for the Service Authority’s other customers. To reduce the impact of some commercial customers placing high demands on the water system, the Service Authority assesses Commercial High Demand Charges to recover the cost of providing the additional water system capacity.

Why are High Demand Charges in place year round?

Commercial High Demand Charges are in place year round as commercial customers’ excess use is not limited to the residential peak season (May through October).

Why are some commercial customers exempt from High Demand I Charges?

Commercial customers with water-only or sub-metered service are subject to High Demand I and II. Commercial customers with both water and sewer service are only subject to High Demand II. This ensures equity between different types of commercial accounts and between residential and commercial customers.

Why are Commercial High Demand Charges going up?

Commercial High Demand Charges are based on the cost of capacity, the same as the Residential Peak Use Charges. In fairness to all our customers, these charges should be the same. Initially, the Commercial High Demand Charges were set lower than Residential Peak Use Charges to allow commercial customers to budget for the increased cost. To ensure our rates are equitable for all customers, the Service Authority has been gradually reducing the difference between Commercial High Demand Charges and Residential Peak Use Charges. In January 2021, this transition will be complete and the two charges will be the same.

How much water do data centers use?

Data center water consumption varies depending on several factors, including but not limited to the size of the facility, the cooling technology used and outdoor temperature. For the 25 operational data centers in Prince William County, the average daily water consumption of a single data center building is about 18,000 gallons per day while the maximum day consumption of a single data center building is about 88,000 gallons per day. The amount of water data centers consume also fluctuates based on seasonal weather conditions. Facilities typically use less water during the winter months and more during the summer months. Currently, the combined water consumption of the operational data centers in Prince William County accounts for about 1.5% of the Service Authority’s average-day demand and about 3.9% of the Service Authority’s maximum-day demand.