Frequently Asked Questions

Account & Service Questions

Our billing runs in six cycles throughout the month. Each cycle is billed at approximately the same time each month. No matter which cycle your bill falls in, it is always due fifteen days after the date on the bill. If your bill is not paid within that first fifteen days, a late fee is added to it.

If the bill is still not paid ten days after your due date, your account is assessed a non-payment fee and scheduled for disconnection. If your service is disconnected, you must pay the entire outstanding balance on your account for service to be restored. Should you decide to have your service reconnected after hours, there will be an additional fee added to your total due.

In short: if your bill goes unpaid, you can expect your water to be disconnected 25 days from the “Bill Date” on the top of your bill.

A rotating list of cutoff days can be found by clicking here.

Your first step is to call the CMD office. When you speak with the customer service staff, they will tell you what information we require. Most often we need a photo ID (driver’s license or state-issued ID card) and proof of residence (rent receipt, rental agreement, landlord’s letter, or copy of the deed).  We ask for these documents as a safety precaution for you—we don’t want to turn your service off because someone else tells us you said it’s okay.

If you are a tenant, please have your landlord’s information ready. If you are applying on behalf of a company, please provide us both a service address and a billing address.

Customers can apply for service online by CLICKING HERE.

An unusually high water bill is most often caused by a leak or change in water use. Some common causes of high water bills include:

  • A leaking toilet, or a toilet that continues to run after being flushed
  • A dripping faucet; a faucet drip can waste 20 gallons of water, or more, a day
  • Filling or topping off a swimming pool
  • Watering the lawn, new grass, or trees; also check for a leaking or turned on outside spigot
  • Kids home for summer vacations or school holidays
  • Guests or additional family visiting
  • Water-cooled air conditioners
  • A broken water pipe or obvious leak; check the pipes in the basement or crawlspace; the water heater could also be leaking
  • Water softener problems – cycles continuously
  • Running the water to avoid freezing water pipes during cold weather

Learning how to save water at home is very important because a typical family of four uses 40‐50 gallons of water per person per day, 160–200 gallons a day, and 4800–6000 gallons per month. The largest water users are the toilets, clothes washer and showers, which account for about two‐thirds of the water used in an average household. Toilets use up to 27% of the household water supply, while clothes washers use approximately 20%, and showers use approximately 17%. Faucets account for about 15% and leaks account for 13% of a family’s water use. Dishwashers, baths, and other uses account for the remaining water use. Generally, water consumption is higher during the summer due to watering of lawns, pools, and gardening.

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Chester Metropolitan District bills for more than just water service. Most customers see a list of codes on their bills. Here is a breakdown of what they are and why they’re used:

Water Base — This is the minimum water charge for any customer.

Water Consumption — This is the charge for your water usage. CMD Bills in 1,000 gallon increments.

Sewer Base — This is the minimum sewer charge for any customer

Sewer Consumption — This is the charge for your sewer usage. It is based on water usage.

Garbage — This is the amount of money your municipality charges for Garbage Service.

CMD bills for wastewater and garbage through contracts with Chester County Wastewater Recovery, the City of Chester, the Town of Fort Lawn, and the Town of Great Falls. For questions about these services, please contact the appropriate authority below:

CWR Wastewater –(803) 377-3541
Town of Fort Lawn Wastewater –(803) 872-4724
City of Chester Garbage Service –(803) 581-1405
Town of Great Falls Wastewater and Garbage Service –(803) 482-2055

The only money the CMD receives comes from customer payments. The District does not receive tax money to help offset daily operations costs. We raise our rates for a number of reasons—increases in chemical costs used to treat the water, increases in the cost of repair materials, and the rising cost of general operation to name a few. CMD makes great effort to secure grant funds for system upgrades and replacement, which helps improve service for customers as well as keeping the rates as low as possible. The less money we have to spend, the less cost we have to pass on to our customers.

CMD’s rates recently changed, which resulted in a decrease in cost to many of its water customers. However, CMD also bills for services other than water, which often makes the bill appear much higher. 

The average customer in Chester uses 4,000 gallons of water or less per month. Many of our customers use less than 2,000 gallons per month. If you divide the associated water charge of $46.11 for 4,000 gallons, the charge per gallon is only a penny.

CMD offers automated phone/text notifications for late payments, service outages, and other important information.

The best way to sign up would be to visit our Online Payment Center and sign up for a utility management account. From there you can manage all of your account settings, including paper or email billing, automated notifications, automated credit/debit bill payments, and more. 

If you do not have access to a computer, you can fill out the form in our office, or fill out the form on the back side of your bill and return it with your next payment. 

Bill Payment Questions

Call (833) 209-4044 to start the process.

To pay your bill over the phone (we call it by IVR), you will need your 9-digit account number and your service address. The automated system will guide you to input your information, select the amount you want to pay, and provide your credit/debit card information for payment.

Common Troubleshooting Actions:

  • Use a landline to make your payment. Sometimes cell phone signals are weak and may not transmit properly.
  • Make sure your account number is correct. This is the most common source of payment processing errors.
  • If you are making a payment to have services reconnected after nonpayment cutoff, please make sure you include the $45 nonpayment fee in the total you pay.
  • If you receive an error, call our office and let us know. More often than not, your payment will process even when an error occurs. If you call us, we can confirm receipt of payment for you.

There are two ways to pay your bill online. Visit Our Payment Portal to start the process. 

To use the One-Time Payment (formerly Quick-Pay) feature, you will need your 9-digit account number and the amount of your last payment to CMD. This amount does not include any processing fees from the last month. (Call our office if you need that amount. We can help with that.) Simply click the “One-Time Payment” link and enter the information requested. 

Our recommendation is to create an online account management portal if you haven’t already. In addition to making payments, you can manage notifications, billing preferences, set up automatic payments, monitor your usage. The portal will save your information safely and securely so you save time.

Common Troubleshooting Actions:

  • When paying a bill online, make sure to include the hyphens in your account number. It should be in this format: 00-00000-00
  • If you paid online or over the phone last month, don’t use the payment amount from your check register. It will include processing fees. Use the reported payment on your bill or call our office for assistance.
  • Please be aware that if you schedule a payment, the system will take that amount from your account even if you pay your bill before that date. 
  • If you set up automatic payments, please set it up for 4-5 days AFTER your bill is due to arrive. If your bill is not in the system at the time the payment should post, it will skip the payment and will not attempt to bill it again.

Maybe.

While Doxo is a legitimate third-party bill payment system, CMD does not endorse it, nor do we encourage our customers to use it. Based on our experience, we know that Doxo will make your payment for you. However, that payment can be delayed as much as 14 days, which may result in disconnection of your service.

When you make a payment through Doxo or any other third-party payment system, You are paying that company, not CMD. That company, in turn, will mail a check to CMD, which takes time. We all know the mail isn’t the fastest way to get things done these days, so while we’re waiting for your payment, you might run out of time. Unfortunately, there is nothing CMD can do to stop disconnection if your payment is made through Doxo and does not arrive in time.

In other words, if you’re facing disconnection, don’t use this service. Call our IVR system at (833) 209-4044 to make your payment instantly. 

Or, if you want to make your payment online, we urge you to visit our Bill Payment Host, www.MunicipalOnlinePayments.com. Municipal Online Payments is the only authorized online bill payment system for CMD. Payments made here are immediately posted to your account and you are emailed both a receipt and a confirmation number in case you ever have a question about your payment.

If you are unsure if the site you’re using is correct, look for our updated logo before you proceed:

CMD bills in six cycles, which are determined by our meter reading routes. This is the simplest and most cost-effective method of reading the 6,200+ meters in our system. By allowing a change in billing dates, CMD staff would be required to duplicate effort, which would slow down the billing process, resulting in late billing.

However, as our system evolves and new technology becomes available, this policy may change. Because many of our customers have asked for the ability to change bill dates, we are researching this option.

A “processing fee” is a per-transaction cost of using a specific service. In our case, the service provided is debit/credit transactions.

While CMD is able to process cash, check, and money-order payments in the lobby free of charge, we are subject to various fees when accepting credit and debit payments. These fees are not unique to CMD; they are charged to any business whose payments are processed by third-party companies.

Generally, retail and for-profit businesses are able to absorb these fees in the cost of the products they sell. Being a public utility, CMD is not able to absorb these fees as a “cost of business”. Rather than raise rates to cover the processing fee, CMD has chosen to charge the fee only to those who use the service 

Other Questions

For a list of common leakage areas, please check this handy guide.

If you do have a leak, you will need to contact a plumber to have the leak repaired. Be sure to get a receipt, because under some circumstances CMD can offer an adjustment after the leak has been repaired.

If you believe your toilet may be leaking, one method of detection is to pour a packet of powdered drink mix into your toilet’s tank. If the toilet is leaking, the colored water will leak into your toilet bowl.

Sometimes our customers find that a water hose has been left running for an extended period of time. A standard water hose can run approximately 10 gallons per minute which means that in less than two hours, that running hose can spill enough water to raise your bill. It takes 1 hour and 40 minutes to spill 1,000 gallons of water, and every 1,000 gallons of water wasted means another $7-$16 added to your bill.

Unfortunately because this is a human error, CMD cannot offer an adjustment on a high bill due to a running water hose.

Every customer service has a Customer Cutoff Valve installed in the service line. This is a round, green box located between your meter and your house. Sometimes they are hard to find, especially if your grass is thick, or you haven’t used it in awhile. It will look similar to this:

 The lid on this box is not locked. Inside the box is a valve that the customer can turn on and off. If you have trouble locating or turning this valve, or you find that the valve is broken, please contact the CMD Office at (803) 385-5123 so our maintenance staff can assist you.

CMD personnel flow hydrants for many reasons. Typically when a hydrant is running while unattended, it is to flush the line that feeds the hydrant. This can be due to a low residual disinfectant reading on a dead-end line, a reported water quality issue, a line break, or regularly-scheduled preventative maintenance. Water flushed from public hydrants is NEVER included on a customer’s bill.

CMD gets its water from the Catawba River as it comes through Fort Lawn. It goes through an extensive disinfection and treatment process at our water treatment facility. The water is disinfected by using a compound called “Chloramines”, which are made of chlorine and ammonia. This compound provides better, longer-lasting disinfection with less chlorine taste and smell. The water is then pumped throughout the CMD system and often stored in one of our above-ground storage tanks.

CMD occasionally runs advertisements in the newspaper. The most common are for the Chlorine/Ammonia Burnout and Hydrant Flow Testing programs, or for Commission Meetings. Any article CMD runs in the newspaper is something we consider “important information” that we want all of our customers to know. Those informational articles will also be posted here on our website.

The Chlorine Burnout procedure is a method for disinfecting our water system. Instead of running chloramines, CMD turns off the Ammonia feed and uses chlorine alone to disinfect the lines. Once the system has been flushed, chloramines are reintroduced to the system. Aside from a stronger chlorine-smell, it typically has no impact on customers.

The Flow Testing procedure still requires CMD staff to flow hydrants, but instead of disinfecting the system, we test each hydrant in the district for flow and pressure readings. This helps ensure that the fire system is in proper working order, and helps flush the lines for disinfection purposes at the same time.

Advertisements of that nature are sometimes considered to be a scam. Companies send out these notices hoping to convince customers that their water lines are in danger. It might come to you with CMD’s name on it, but we didn’t send it. Paper correspondence from CMD will come in two forms—with your water bill, or as a letter on district letterhead.

As for the repairs, if a water line breaks on CMD’s side of the meter, we will repair it at no cost to you. But if it breaks on your side, you will have to have a plumber repair it. Hold onto your receipt! Your repairs may qualify you for an adjustment to your bill.

The Chester Metropolitan District (CMD) is a Special Purpose District, created under the SC Legislature in 1959. For all intents and purposes, CMD is considered a municipal governmental entity and we fall under the same transparency regulations as both City government and County government. We strive for clarity in all aspects of our business.

Our Board of Commissioners is an appointed 9-member body. Appointments are made by the local municipalities in the county as follows: City of Chester (3 members), Chester County (2 members), Town of Great Falls (2 members), Town of Richburg (1 member), and Town of Fort Lawn (1 member). CMD staff has no control over the appointments. Visit our Commission page for more information.

The CMD Commissioners are considered the “policymakers” for the District. That means they must approve all policy changes. 

The administrative staff is responsible for daily operations, but must follow the policies set forth by the Commission.

The “Water Bill of Rights” is a document created by the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) that regulates private (or “investor-owned”) utilities in the State of South Carolina. It was created with the intent of keeping privately-owned utilities from treating their customers unfairly. We have been asked many times if CMD is required to adhere to this document. The short answer is this:

No.

We are considered a local municipality and as such, we are not regulated by the ORS.  However, we strive to treat all customers uniformly and fairly through our documented policies and procedures. Decisions made by CMD’s management are not in any way arbitrary and are always carefully considered for the best interest of the customers, the District, and the County as a whole.

Since we are subject to transparency regulations just like a city or county government, our customers are welcome to contact us with any and all questions and concerns and may request any publicly accessible documentation allowed under FOIA regulations.

More information on the responsibilities of the ORS can be found by clicking here.

CMD does not levy taxes. The only revenue CMD receives is from the sale of drinking water to our customers. Our rates were recently restructured from a declining block rate (favorable to large water users) to a flat rate (favorable to residents and small businesses). The average CMD customer uses less than 2,000 gallons of water a month and as such, pays $33.00 or less per month for water service (water only). CMD also bills for other municipal services such as sewer service (for Chester County Wastewater Recovery, Town of Fort Lawn, and Town of Great Falls) and garbage pickup (for the City of Chester and the Town of Great Falls). Charges for sewer service and garbage pick-up are outlined on every monthly utility bill. CMD does not set the rates for sewer and garbage services.

CMD uses a combination of cash, revenue bonds, and grants to fund its construction projects.

CMD has, in the past, pursued both state and federal grant funding to replace aging water lines. We have done so both as an individual agency and with sponsorship assistance from the City of Chester and/or Chester County. However, grant money is earmarked for very specific purposes and is not always available for our current project list. Recently, CMD was awarded a grant from FEMA for disaster mitigation, which we intend to use to install three power generators at our critical facilities. Once this process is complete, we will pursue additional grant money for system improvements as it comes available.

CMD currently has approximately fifteen (15) construction projects in its queue, some of which will replace older water lines. As problems are reported, our maintenance crews investigate the infrastructure and, if it is determined that the line should be replaced, will do so once funding is appropriated and the design/contracting process is complete. While parts of the water system are aging, the infrastructure is not in disrepair.

The Chester Metropolitan District owns, operates, and maintains the entirety of its public water system. The City of Chester does not own any water system infrastructure maintained by CMD.

[This is a common misconception. The City of Chester owns part of the sanitary sewer system infrastructure and participates in a lease agreement with Chester County Wastewater Recovery (CWR) for only a portion of the sewer collection system. CMD and CWR are separate governmental entities and CMD has no part in this lease agreement with the City of Chester.]

Something else you want to know?
Call us at (803) 385-5123 or send us a message!