About Your Water Bill & Water Meter

I received my utility bill. What are the charges and terms of payment?
The City's utility rates and charges are governed by Title 15 of the Municipal Code. The City's utility rates and charges are Information about your rates can be downloaded here: Water & Sewer Utility Rates as of January 1, 2024 (pdf)

When you receive your water and sewer bill, please review it very carefully. If you notice any errors or unusual items, please immediately contact our Customer Service office.

Procedures governing unpaid charges are set forth by Title 15 of the Municipal Code. Payment is due 30 days from the billing date printed on your bill, as listed under the 'Amount Due' section.

If payment is not received by that date, a late penalty of 1.5% is assessed on the outstanding balance and a Past Due notice will be mailed to the billing address on file. The past due amount is due within 7 days of the billing date, which is stated on the bill. If payment is still not received, a shut-off notice will be delivered to the service location. If payment is not received within 24 hours of the notice, water service will be turned off. A turn-on fee applies to have service reinstated. If you are a renter, we may be required to notify the landlord or property owner of non-payment of water and sewer utility service.


What is the fixed service charge on my utility bill for?

A bi-monthly service charge is assessed based on meter size and relates to fixed costs of providing water. Fixed costs may include meter reading, repair, customer service and insurance. 


How are sewer charges computed? Why is it more than the cost of water service?
The sewer system collects sewage from residential and commercial customers, and the Burlingame Treatment Plant treats sanitary sewage to protect the health of the public and the environment prior to discharge to the Pacific Ocean. As such, the cost of treating sewage is higher than our cost for delivering potable water, and therefore, sewer charges tend to be higher than water charges.

For residential customers, the first year's sewer charge is based on the number of bedrooms in the home. After one year of winter time water usage (January-April), the sewer charge is adjusted based on average for the four months. Following a second consecutive winter (January-April), the rate will be further adjusted according to the demonstrated water usage for the total eight months.

Every year thereafter, the sewer charge will be adjusted using the previous 3 year historical average, then multiplied by the current sewer rate as enacted by City Council. This determines the sewer charge to be applied to the account until the following December.

For non-residential customers, sewer charges are based on actual bi-monthly water usage.

Why did the City move to tiered water rate structure? Who qualifies for a tiered rate?
A Tiered Rate Structure encourages water conservation and will provide relief to customers with lower water consumption. Due to the complexity of customer classes with differing water demands, the tiered rate structure is being proposed only for single family residential customers, which comprise two-thirds of the Burlingame water customers.

You qualify for the tiered rate structure if you are a:

  • Current Single Family Residential classification for water billing,
  • You are a single (1) residence on one (1) parcel,
  • You have a single (1) meter,
  • Your parcel is located on R1 zoning.

At this time, the City does not offer a tiered water rate structure for condominiums, multi-family homes, or duplexes with R2 zoning since consumption is not subject to the outdoor use that the tiered rates target.

How does the tiered water rate structure work?
The following is an example of a typical single-family residential tiered water bill. If you would like a walk-through of your bill, please call us and we would be happy to go over your bill with you.


How can I lower my water bill?
Water Conservation is the best way to reduce your water bills. Lowering indoor water consumption will also provide savings on your sewer bill. Water conservation tips are also available on the City website.


I'm concerned about my water consumption - it looks higher than usual.
If you have a concern about possible leak or are investigating the cause of your higher than normal consumption, then please call our Utility Billing office and we can arrange a possible inspection to determine the cause and check for leaks. Repairs of the leaks on the property are the customer's responsibility, so it is important to monitor your water consumption to prevent high bills.

If we recently replaced your old meter with a radio meter, then it is likely that the radio meter is accurately measuring your actual water use. Currently, most water meters in are read once every two months. This is a manual process and labor-intensive, making it difficult to detect leaks. The radio meter will allow us to gather more frequent consumption data and prevent leaks.

Where is my water meter?
Your water meter is located outside the home usually near the street in a water meter box. For assistance in locating or reading your water meter, please contact the Water Office at (650) 558-7210. ***Caution: If your meter box has a black plastic circle, wires are attached to the meter lid and may be damaged if the meter box is opened improperly. A flat head screwdriver inserted into the small hole can be used to lift the lid. Set the lid down to the right side of the meter box.


What does my water meter look like?

There are four basic models of water meters used for homes. They are all manufactured by Sensus, and range in size from ¾" up to 2". The SR-II (3/4", 1"), iPerl (3/4", 1"), SR (1.5", 2"), and Omni (1.5', 2").The pictures below will help identify which meter you have.


How do I read my water meter?

After determining the model of your water meter, you can refer to the helpful diagrams below which will assist you in reading the consumption data.




I noticed that the City is replacing our old meter and installing a radio meter. Could you tell me more about this initiative?

Advanced meter reading (or AMR) refers to meters that transmit your water usage data directly to the receiver located in the City's meter reading vehicle. Not all customers have meters that are read with "AMR", but those that do will notice a black plastic circle in their meter lid, which is the radio read transmitter. Since wires are attached to these meter lids, special care must be taken when opening AMR meter boxes. The radio meters provide accurate reads in a more efficient way compared to the older models which require manual reads.