The 2017 Utility Fee Survey is now open. Please click here to participate in the survey.


For the past few months, I’ve been conducting the 2015 Utility Fee Survey, an update to the original Utility Fee Survey published three years ago. The survey was designed to research what fees utilities charge, how much they charge for each fee and to see what changes have taken place over the last three years.

As was the case in 2012, the results include too much information for a single issue. If you’re interested, here are the results from the 2012 Utility Fee Survey:

2012 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part I

2012 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part II

2012 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part III

This is the first of three consecutive Utility Information Pipelines publishing the results of the 2015 Utility Fee Survey.

Demographics of survey respondents

106 utilities, representing 19 states, ranging in size from 83 to 90,000 active accounts participated in the survey. Click on the links below to see charts of the various demographic data:

Number of responses by state

Size of utilities responding

Size of utilities under 20,000 accounts responding

Types of utilities responding

Services provided by responding utilities

Positions of individuals completing survey

Tap fees and impact fees

The survey started with water and sewer tap and impact fees. There are a couple key distinctions to keep in mind when comparing tap and impact fees.

Tap fees should recover the cost of making the actual water or sewer tap. This includes direct costs such as labor, materials and vehicle use as well as any indirect costs associated with completing the tap. Tap fees are classified as operating revenues.

Impact fees, sometimes called availability fees or system development charges, are designed to cover the incremental capital cost of adding an additional user to the water or sewer system. Impact fees are classified as non-operating revenues.

For utilities charging an impact fee based on number of bedrooms, monthly or daily usage, I assumed three bedrooms or 3,000 gallons per month.

Residential water tap fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $20.00 to $8,000.00 as shown below (clicking on the any of the graphics will open a larger image in a new window):

Residential Water Tap Fees

Two other utilities charge the actual time and materials cost incurred for a residential water tap.

Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer tap fees ranging from $50.00 to $10,000.00 as depicted by this graph:

Residential Sewer Tap Fees

Two other utilities charge the actual time and materials cost incurred for a residential sewer tap and one charges time and materials plus $350.00.

Residential water impact fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $25.00 to $25,754.00 as shown in this graph:

Residential Water Impact Fees

Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer impact fees ranging from $350.00 to $21,600.00 as shown here:

Residential Sewer Impact Fees

Upcoming issues

Part II – August 4, 2015

The next issue will deal with delinquent account fees and policies, including late fees, cut-off fees and after hours reconnect fees.

Part III – August 18, 2012

The final survey results issue showcases any remaining fees, including application, returned check, meter reread, meter tampering and convenience fees.

A special offer

I’m offering a special offer to the first five Utility Information Pipeline readers who respond. If you are one of the first five to respond, I will conduct a personalized fee consultation for one-third off the regular price! That’s $1,000 rather than the usual $1,500 price for this service.

I will review your utility’s current fee schedule and conduct an in-depth phone assessment to learn more about your fees. You will receive a presentation quality document illustrating how your fees compare with other utilities. Also included will be my recommendations for revising any existing fees and suggestions of new fees you should consider charging.

If you are interested in this special offer, please contact me by calling 919-232-2320 or e-mailing me at Remember, the discounted special offer is only available to the first five people who respond.

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© 2015 Gary Sanders