The Washington Post

Snow days = more flushes

What did many of us do while stuck at home during recent snow days? Apparently, we flushed. A lot.

People at home during winter storms flushed toilets more often and used more water than usual because they weren’t in school or at the office, leading to higher than normal home water bills, a spokesman for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) said Wednesday.

WSSC spokesman Jerry Irvine said the utility is receiving numerous complaints from customers and public officials about the higher than usual bills.

The WSSC, which provides water and sewer services to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, previously said the wintry weather led to higher bills because meter readers were delayed when meters got buried under snow, which led to a longer billing cycle. Some quarterly bills covered an additional month, making them 30 percent higher than usual, officials said.

Irvine said Wednesday that higher water consumption also played a role. A family of four with a low-flow toilet could add 25 gallons daily to their bill in additional toilet flushes, Irvine said. A conventional toilet could add more than 80 gallons daily, he said.

Kids playing in snow also could have led to more laundry — each load uses up to 40 gallons of water — and cooking more at home would have required additional runs of the dishwasher, which can use up to 15 gallons per load.

“When you’re stuck in the house because of bad weather,” Irvine said, “you’re going to use more water.”







Katherine Shaver is a transportation and development reporter. She joined The Washington Post in 1997 and has covered crime, courts, education and local government but most prefers writing about how people get — or don’t get — around the Washington region.

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