Questions about Water and Sewer Billing

Who should I call if there is a water emergency?

  • Please contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1 and give the details of the emergency. City staff will direct your call to the appropriate department.

How often will I receive my residential water and sewer bill?

  • You will receive a bill every two months. Every effort is made to read your meter three times a year but you may not always receive three based on actual reads in a year. Bills based on estimates are calculated on previous seasonal water usage and do not take into account a change of ownership/occupancy or weather fluctuations from year to year. The City reserves the right to correct billing errors at any time.

I am moving. What do I do?

When it's a property you own

  • For a $65 fee the vendors' or purchasers' lawyer can apply for a Water and Sewer Surcharge Certificate, which is a statement of outstanding charges at the time of closing. The City will obtain a final reading on the closing date. A final bill is then sent to the vendor at the service address unless the vendor requests that the final bill be sent elsewhere. Alternatively, please contact the City to arrange a final meter reading, or to provide the final reading yourself.

When it's a property you rent

  • Please contact the City to arrange a final meter reading, or to provide the final reading yourself.

Ownership/Tenant changes

If you are moving into or out of a property, it is important for you to contact Revenue Branch a minimum of 21 days in advance. This notice is required in order to ensure that your property and contact information is up-to-date with us. If you move without notifying Revenue Branch, you will be liable for the account until notice of your move is received.

  • Revenue Branch will do a final meter reading within 10 days of your closing date.
  • There is a charge for setting up a new water/sewer account, please refer to Fees for more details.
  • Please e-mail revenue@ottawa.ca or call us with the following information:
    • Service Address for old and new account
    • New Owner/ Tenants refer to Billing options for tenants
    • Date of closing
    • Phone number, cell, home, work
    • Your new mailing address (necessary for any refunds due to the Final reading)

I am going away for an extended period of time. What can I do about my water bill?

Here is a checklist to follow:

  • Check all plumbing fixtures, such as inside and outside taps, and ensure they are completely turned off.
  • Take a meter reading prior to leaving. Notify the City's Revenue Branch by e-mail or by phone at 613-580-2444 * (Calls may be recorded) (TTY: 613-580-2401) about your plans, providing your meter information and the date of the reading. You will be billed for the amount owing and then your account will be placed on a 'no consumption' status until your return. You can also prepay your bill.
  • In the winter, it is essential you maintain some household heat while you are away to prevent your meter from freezing. The City charges to replace a frozen meter. If you are lowering or turning off the heat, you should drain your water system to prevent any damages resulting from freezing. Please contact a plumber for more information.

How do I get a billing based on an actual read instead of an estimate?

Take your own meter reading and relay this information before the due date to the Revenue Branch by e-mail or by phone at 613-580-2444 * (Calls may be recorded) (TTY: 613-580-2401). Be sure to have your account number ready. If there is a large difference in the reading (10 cubic metres or more), the City can send you a revised bill or the bill will adjust itself on the next actual read.

How do I take my meter reading?

Taking a meter reading is as easy as reading your car odometer. Water meters are generally located in the basement of your house, usually on the front wall. Read the six numbers on your meter from left to right like an odometer and contact us by e-mail or by phone at 613-580-2444* (Calls may be recorded) (TTY: 613-580-2401) or on the automated 24-hour meter reading line at 613-580-2727 (have your account number ready). If you are unable to find your meter, call us since we may have location information on file. A revised bill based on your reading will be issued.

* Please note: Calls to Revenue Branch may be recorded for quality assurance and training purposes as well as confirming client requests and directions.

Can I have my water meter tested for accuracy?

Residential water meters either record consumption accurately or start under-registering with age, however if you think the water meter consumption is the cause of a high water bill, you can request the water meter be tested for accuracy.  Should the testing prove that the meter is not over-registering, it is your responsibility to pay for the test.

Why is my water bill suddenly very high?

There are a number of possible explanations:

  • It could be due to higher water consumption as a result of:
  • A change in the household (such as new tenants, new owners, more people, visitors);
  • New appliances (such as a water-cooled air conditioner, dishwasher, hot water tank, heating system, lawn sprinkler system)
  • You may have some plumbing problems or leaks. To check for leaks, locate the 'trickle indicator' - a small red or black triangle - on your water meter. Make sure no water is running, and then check to see if the indicator is turning, moving or shaking. If it is, water is flowing through the meter indicating a leak somewhere. The homeowner is responsible for all plumbing repairs and maintenance. The City is not responsible for internal plumbing leaks.
  • Toilets seep.  Lift the lid off of the water tank, drop in some food colouring or brewed tea or coffee, and come back in 20 minutes.  If colour appears in the toilet bowl the rod-and-ball assembly or flapper need adjustment or replacement (Don’t flush the toilet while you are waiting). The homeowner is responsible for all plumbing repairs and maintenance. The City is not responsible for internal plumbing leaks.
  • It could be a catch-up bill, which can occur when an actual meter reading is missed, an outside remote is not working, or after a change in occupancy. If the water meter reader is unable to get a reading he or she will leave a door hanger asking the resident to phone in their meter reading. A series of low estimates may create a larger than normal bill when an actual reading is received.
  • It could be a result of higher seasonal demands.
  • It could be due to an inaccurate estimate. If you receive an estimated bill, you have the option of comparing the actual meter reading to the estimated reading on the bill. If there is a large difference in the reading (10 cubic metres or more), the City can send you a revised bill or the bill will adjust itself on the next actual read. You may also phone in an actual reading seven to 10 days before the next billing date on the automated 24-hour meter reading line at 613-580-2727 orby e-mail. You can determine your billing cycle by using the service dates from your consumption history on your bill.