Public Works: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Would you like to know how and why you should control knotweed and ivy? How about tips to reduce your water consumption or spot leaks? Interested in finding out how your meters are read and your water use is billed? These and many other frequently asked questions are answered below. Have questions we haven't answered? Let us know! You can contact the City, or email the Public Works Director.
Utility Billing FAQs
Tips for Water Conservation
Utility Billing FAQs
Water and Sewer Rates - Table Represents an Approximate 3% Increase. Please note, City Ordinance allows a minimum rate increase of 3% per year effective July 1st of each year.
The City of Cannon Beach is committed to providing timely and accurate billings, collecting payments fairly and equitably, and meeting customer needs for information and service. If you have questions about your Cannon Beach water, sewer, or storm water bill, call the City at 503-436-8080. Staff is available from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday with the exceptions of holidays.
The City Water Department reads your water meter the third week of every month. The City bills monthly for water, wastewater, and storm utility services. The minimum fee is $38.91 per month. Your water and wastewater service is made up of two components: a basic service charge and a usage charge.
|Your water use is billed as follows: $14.86 for the first 400 cubic feet and $3.72 per hundred cubic feet consumed thereafter per billing cycle.
|Your wastewater use is billed as follows: $21.07 for the first 400 cubic feet and $5.27 per hundred cubic feet of water used thereafter, per billing cycle. There are a few customers that are outside City limits and they are billed at a rate 1.5 times the above schedule.
|Your storm use is billed as follows: $4.22 per month.
Where is my water meter located?
The meter is usually located next to your property line in direct line with the outside main faucet or valve (where you turn your water off to your house or business). It is housed in either a concrete or plastic meter box. If you have trouble locating your meter, call the City and we will help you. Records are kept on the location of each water meter, the age of the service, size, and any maintenance performed on the meter.
To check the meter, put on gloves, and insert a tool such as a screwdriver in the hole and pry open the concrete or plastic lid. A concrete lid is heavy, so be careful when handling it. To read the meter, lift the cover. (Always replace the cover on your water meter after you are finished. Be careful not to pinch the connecting wire when closing the cover.)
How do I read my meter?
The water meter register is just like the mileage odometer on your car. It keeps a running total of all the water that has passed through the meter. The dial on the meter serving your home may look somewhat different, but they all work on the same principles. The register sweep hand will turn one full revolution with the use of one cubic foot of water. The markings on the outer edge of the dial indicate tenths and hundredths of a cubic foot.The six pronged star rotates whenever water flows through the meter and is called the low flow indicator. Read all the numbers from left to right that appear under the words Cubic Feet. The first digit on the right represents one cubic foot, the second from the right represents 10 cubic feet, the third from the right represents 100 cubic feet, and so on.
Why don't you install gallon meters instead of cubic feet meters?
The industry standard is cubic feet, even though most people have a much better understanding of gallons than they do of cubic feet. We currently have nearly 2000 cubic foot registers. Changing them all to gallons at this point in time would be an expensive proposition. Its easy to convert cubic feet to gallons by multiplying the number of cubic feet by 7.5 (7.4805 to be precise!). Here's an example: 150 cubic ft X 7.5 gals per cubic ft = approx. 1125 gals
How do I calculate my use?
To calculate your water use, subtract the previous meter reading from the current meter reading. For example: 69671—69550 = 121 cubic feet
What could cause my utility bill to be higher than normal?
There could be many reasons for a high bill, but it is usually one of two reasons: (1) More water than normal passed through the meter, or (2) The latest reading from the meter is wrong. It doesn't happen often, but occasionally the meter reader will record the wrong reading. The City will re-read a meter upon request.
How do I check for leaks?
To check for a leak you must first turn off all faucets inside and outside your house. Be certain the toilet is not flushing and the automatic ice cube maker is not operating when performing this task. When the water is turned off, look and make sure that the low flow indicator is not moving. A circular motion by the indicator suggests a leak. Read the meter by writing down the meter number and the location of the sweep arm. After reading the meter, use no water for at least two hours. Take a second reading. If you used no water, the two readings should be the same. If the reading has changed or the sweep hand has moved, something on the property may be pulling water through the meter. If your meter shows usage on the meter test, finding the problem is the responsibility of the property owner. But we can suggest some places to look.
Where are common leaks?
One of the most common culprits is the toilet. Even though a toilet isn't running, it can still be leaking water. If you suspect a problem, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and let it sit for several hours. If the dye has colored the water in the bowl, there is a leak. Also, look inside the tank for water going into the overflow pipe. Faucet leaks are more easily detected. Be sure to check seldom-used faucets that may be in the basement or in storage rooms. Worn washers or "O" rings usually cause faucet leaks. Check the outside taps for leaking water, particularly during the summer sprinkling season. A hose mistakenly left dribbling away in the grass or garden can waste thousands of gallons of water over the summer. Remember to close outside faucets tightly every time you shut off the water.
Can a leaking toilet go through a lot of water?
Yes. While a slow drip on a faucet can waste 2 to 3 cubic feet a day (between 60 and 120 cubic feet per month), a leaky toilet can go through up to seven times that amount each day (between 420 and 840 cubic feet per month). That can add up to a lot of water.
Does the City issue an adjustment for leaks?
Adjustments for the water bills are not allowed. However, if you did not use the sewer service, you may request an adjustment to the sewer portion of your bill. The Public Works Committee reviews each request and makes adjustments as necessary.
Can I turn my meter on or off?
No. A City employee will do this for you at a charge of $10. The water meter is the property of the City and damages to the meter could be charged to you.
My meter was replaced and now I'm using more water. Is my new meter running fast?
No. All of our residential water meters (meters 1" in size and smaller) are positive displacement meters. We buy this type of meter because when they fail, they fail in favor of the consumer. The meters have a dial similar to a paddle wheel. The dial will only turn as fast as the water turns it. As a meter gets old, it could corrode and slowly grind to a halt. Therefore, an old meter could actually be registering less water than is actually used. As meters age and with extended use, the meters will either maintain their accuracy or slow down. Most likely the old meter was slowing down.
How can I have my bill payment automatically deducted from my checking or savings account each month?
The City offers many automatic payment options including direct debit of checking or savings on the billing due date. To initiate this service, complete a direct debit application and return it to City Hall. The City also offers automatic credit card payment options as well.
Does the City charge late fees on past due bills?
A $10.00 account late fee is assessed to all utility customers with a past due balance 15 days past the due date. If the water is turned off for non-payment, the reconnect fee is $100 in addition to the required $100 deposit.
How can I reduce my bill?
By conserving water in your home, you not only reduce your water and sewer bill, but you will also save on the energy needed to heat the water or run appliances.
Why does my water sometimes look ‘milky’ or ‘cloudy’?
Uncolored Cloudy: Cloudy water is usually caused by tiny air bubbles in the water similar to gas bubbles in beer and pop. Because the solubility of gases increase with decreasing temperature, the cloudiness occurs more often in the winter when the drinking water is cold. Cloudiness can also be the result from operations of hydrants or flow reversals. If you notice cloudy water, fill a clean, clear glass with water from the cold tap and let it sit on the counter. If the water starts to clear from the bottom of the glass first, it is caused by air in the lines. This is probably due to air bubbles either from dissolved oxygen being released or trapped air in the plumbing. It is common since our water comes from springs supersaturated with oxygen. If you are also noticing spitting from the faucet and have had recent plumbing work, it is probably the air trapped when the water refilled the empty plumbing. This should clear as the water is used. If others in the neighborhood have a similar problem, especially where the City of Cannon Beach has been working on the main, the problem may be the result of air trapped in a main. If you have concerns, please contact the Public Works Department at (503)436-8062.
Foaming/Cloudy Water: Foaming water, especially from kitchen sinks, can be caused by dish detergent being splashed on the faucet. If your water is foaming, shake up a glass of water to form a layer of bubbles. Does the layer last when you stop shaking? Does it smell like soap? Is this coming from more than one tap? If only one tap is affected (usually the kitchen faucet with an aerator), dish washing detergent may have been splashed onto the faucet. This can be rinsed off and the problem should clear up. If it is from all the faucets, call the City Water Department. Save some of the water to show to the inspector, and refrain from drinking or cooking with the water until it is checked out. If you have concerns, please contact the Public Works Department at (503)436-8062.
Sometimes I see City workers opening fire hydrants and letting the water gush out. Aren’t they wasting water?
Periodically, the water department will flush water mains in your neighborhood to help maintain water quality and to “exercise” fire hydrant valves. Rust and grit can build up inside city water lines just like it can in the plumbing in your home. Flushing the lines helps to keep the rust from building up and clogging pipes and hydrants. Generally, the flushing occurs in late winter when the water supply is at its maximum.
What goes on inside your hot water heater?
Most people usually don’t think about their hot water heater until they run out of hot water. But during the last several years, the water treatment staff noticed an increase in the number of customer call regarding small white or gray, granular or eggshell-like particles in their water. These particles were plugging faucet aerators and shower heads and were settling out of water when poured into a glass. Other customers noticed that, in addition to the white flakes, they were having problems with water pressure and flow into their hot water supplies.
An article in the American Water Works Associations Opflow newsletter described how water utilities throughout the country were experiencing similar complaints from their customers. The story went on to explain how one water utility traced the problem of white flakes to a faulty dip tube in a customer’s hot water heater.
A dip tube is an extension of the cold water pipe inside the hot water tank. The tube directs the incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank where it is heated by the heating element. As the water is heated, it rises to the top of the water heater where it flows through the hot water outlet and into the hot water system of your home as it is needed. Most older water heaters have dip tubes made out of copper pipe, but newer models are now made with plastic dip tubes.
Several water heater manufacturers made defective dip tubes from a type of plastic that deteriorates over time. As the defective dip tube ages, the plastic softens and breaks into small pieces that eventually flow out of the water heater along with the hot water. These tiny bits of plastic clog faucets, shower heads and pipes. At some point, the dip tube may break off from the end of the cold water inlet pipe, causing the incoming cold water to dilute the hot water supply in the tank and decrease the effectiveness of the water heater.
If you own a water heater made between August 1993 and October 1996 by A.O. Smith Corporation, American Water Heater Company, Bradford White Corporation, Lochinvar Corporation, Rheem Manufacturing Company, or State Industries, Inc., you may have a defective dip tube.
Will using a home water treatment device make my water safer or healthier?
Not necessarily. Some people use home water filters to improve the taste, smell, or appearance of their tap water, but it may not make the water safer or healthier to drink.
Is bottled water safer or healthier to drink than tap water?
Not necessarily. The safety of bottled water and tap water initially depends on the source of the water. Monitoring and source protection, treatment and testing ultimately determine the quality of the finished product.
Water Conservation Tips
The City is encouraging everyone to conserve water. There are many ways we can save water. Did you know that in the average house, two-thirds of indoor water is used in the bathroom? In this pamphlet you may find some ideas on how you might be able to conserve water. Take some time to go through your house or apartment and look for ways to conserve!
Why Should I Conserve Water?
Wise water use saves money on both your water and sewer bills. Wise water use stretches our water resource and avoids seasonal water shortages. During the summer, the rainy season ends and the water from our Spring production drops off. The City supplements our water supply from Ecola Creek when Spring production does not meet the City’s water demands. On warm summer days, water use is over double the amount of an average winter day. Everyone wants safe, high-quality, reasonably priced water. Over the long-term our community is growing. Our current system has limitations. Wise water use will help everyone save money and resources in the long run.
How Do I Test For A Leak in My Service Line?
If you suspect you may have a leak, here’s how to confirm your suspicion. Turn off all the water consuming appliances inside and outside of your home. Read your meter. If the meter is turning, water is flowing through the meter. Locate the shut-off valve to your house. Turn the valve counter clockwise. Read the meter again. If the numbers are still turning, there is probably a leak in the yard, between the house and the meter. If you believe you have a water leak or you observe a leak on your street or in your neighborhood, please contact the Water Department at 436-8062.
Commingled Recycling FAQs
How do I use my recycling cart?
Please let your recycling carts out at the curb by 7am or the night before on an every other week schedule. If it is less than half full don't worry about putting it out because you will be able to make it to your next service week.
Glass Recycling available at the depot. Glass cannot be mixed with the other recyclables in the cart as it tends to break, contaminating the recyclable materials. Bring your glass to the recycling depot on East Second Street, and place in the appropriate dumpster. Please rinse the glass, but no need to sort!
Metal Recycling available at the depot. If you wish, you can bring metal to the recycling depot on East Second Street, and place in the metal dumpster. Metal can also be commingled.
Cardboard and Commercial Cardboard Recycling available at the depot. Cardboard must be flat and dry prior to recycling.
Where can I take recyclable materials?
Commingled recycling services within the City include both residential curbside pickup or drop off at the recycling depot, as well as commercial drop off. To get a recycling cart, please call 503-861-0578. The depot is located at the end of East Second Street, past the tennis courts and the wastewater treatment facility. No trash is accepted.
Or, recyclable materials and solid waste can be taken to CART'M Recycling in Manzanita or to the Astoria Transfer Station (503) 325-4623, at 1790 Williamsport Rd., Astoria.
Grass clippings, prunings, leaves, sod and other similar non-noxious, organic material is accepted at the City's Yard Debris Collection site located west of the recycling depot on East Second Street. The facility is available to residential customers only. No commercial yard debris is accepted.
The Recycling Depot and Yard Debris Collection site is open 7 days a week from 8:00am to 4:00pm.
Knotweed Control FAQS
Get your own Knotweed Brochure and Wanted Poster[.pdf]!
Why is Knotweed a threat?
• Knotweed is invasive, fast growing, and aggressive! Manual and chemical controls are difficult.
• Knotweed spreads by rhizomes, stem or root fragments, and seed. Nodes of the cane may sprout roots when in contact with water. A 1-inch root fragment can produce a new plant!
• Knotweed is allelopathic; exudes toxins through root and rhizomes to inhibit germination and growth of other plants, native and ornamental.
• Knotweed creates a dense canopy, excluding the establishment of tree seedlings along riverbanks, which contribute woody debris to the river system and are important to fish habitat and survival.
• Knotweed creates monocultures, excluding native vegetation, thus creating poor habitat for animal species and insects, and causing a break in the food chain.
• Knotweed may fill and choke small streams, tributaries, and channels used by salmon and other fish.
• Knotweed can negatively impact transportation right-of-ways, damage pavement and concrete, as well as creating flood hazards. Knotweed Facts - What is it?
• Dead winter stalks can create fire hazards, as well as aesthetically displeasing.
What kinds of knotweed are there?
Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) - Herbaceous perennial plant from long creeping rhizomes, which can be 60 feet long, and develop into dense mats. Shoots can generate from the rhizomes and from the roots when near the soil surface or when buried up to 6 feet. Stems are stout, hollow, reddish-brown, 4 to 9 feet tall, semi-woody but die back at the end of the growing season. The plant has a bamboo like resemblance. The nodes are slightly swollen and surrounded by thin papery sheaths. Leaves are alternate in arrangement, usually ovate, narrowing to a point. The flowers are greenish white to cream, borne in large plume-like clusters at ends of stems and in leaf axils.
Giant Knotweed (Polygonum sachalinense) - Very similar to Japanese in appearance, the main difference is leaf and plant size. It can grow to over 12 feet tall. Leaves are heart-shaped, can exceed one foot long and are twice the size of Japanese. The flowers of Japanese increase in size with maturity, but the giant does not. Both knotweed species were introduced from Japan as ornamental plants, are equally invasive and difficult to control.
Hybrid Knotweed - Japanese and giant knotweed are able to hybridize with one another. Often times with characteristics of both species on the same plant.
Himalayan Knotweed (Polygonum polystachyum) - Himalayan can grow up to six feet tall, with red stems and leaf stalks. The leaves are oblong, lance-shaped, with brown persistent sheaths at the base of the leaf stalks. The flowers are white to pink, and occur in loose, branched clusters.
How Can I Help?
When weed infestations are identified, it is important to work with your neighbors to control the problem. The City is sponsoring an Adopt-a-Patch program. Knotweed infestations have been identified in the following locations: S-Curves, Elk Creek Road, Siuslaw Street, Tanana Avenue, Spruce Street, 2nd Street, Les Shirley Park, as well as on private property. If you would like to participate in the Adopt-A-Patch program, please call City Hall. We will supply disposal bags and arrange for pickup of the bagged knotweed. The City is also available to identify Knotweed and answer various questions.
How do I control it?
Control of knotweed relies on the death of the extensive rhizome system, which usually takes a number of years. Cutting or pulling. Regular cutting or pulling will, after a number of years, eventually exhaust the rhizome and kill the plant. It is important that all cut or pulled stems of knotweed are disposed of in the landfill or burned.
• Do not flail or mow Knotweed as this will cause it to spread. Cutting with sharp hooks, slashers etc is recommended.
• Do not spread Knotweed stem and crowns. If you cut down Knotweed, it is best disposed of on site (burned or placed in a garbage bag for disposal).
• Do not spread soil contaminated with Knotweed rhizome. Any soil that is obtained from ground within 7 m of a Knotweed plant could contain rhizome. The rhizome is highly regenerative and will readily grow into new plants.
• Do not chip Knotweed material. Mechanical chippers do not kill Knotweed. If you spread the chipped material on soil, Knotweed could re grow.
• Do not add Knotweed to compost.
• Do not waste time. If Knotweed appears in your area, treat it immediately. Do not allow it to become established.
Please help to prevent the spread of Knotweed by following these guidelines. If you intend to use a herbicide in or near water, you need to obtain the approval of the Environment Agency prior to treatment.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding protective clothing and the safe and effective use of herbicides. When applying herbicides, take care to avoid drift, and any damage to non-target plants.
Why remove ivy?
English ivy is a non-native invasive plant that has covered entire trunks of untold numbers of trees throughout the temperate rain forest of the Pacific Northwest. Used in gardens and landscaping projects as a ground and bank cover, it climbs trees seeking light to reproduce. In its aggressive growth, it replaces native plants, causes trees to prematurely decline, and disrupts ecosystems. If ivy is left unchecked, this species will form an “ivy desert” -- very few species can compete successfully with this alien vine.
Why does ivy take over an area?
Our environment provides ivy’s ideal situation: lots of moisture, not too sunny, no natural enemies and our native wildlife does not use it for a food source.
How do you remove ivy from a tree?
Removing ivy from a tree gives a tree a chance to have a longer, healthier life and be less susceptible to toppling or blow-down. Depending on the thickness of the vines, use either loppers or a pruning saw to cut through each vine at shoulder height and at ankle height. Be careful not to wound the bark of the tree when cutting the ivy vines. Strip the ivy away from the tree between the two cuts. Do not attempt to pull the vine above the shoulder level cut down - you could bring down a huge ivy missile, a branch, or a Yellow Jacket nest. Leave the ivy above the shoulder cut alone - it will wither and deteriorate eventually. Pull the cut vine away from the base of the tree to where it's growing from the ground. Carefully recheck the area for any thin vines which may be snaked under bark. If you do not get all the vines, you haven't freed the tree. A horrendous clump of Ivy on a tree can be supported with just one thin vine that tried to hide or was overlooked! Then pull as much ivy as possible and as deep as possible around the base of the tree. Keep extending the pulled area around the base of the tree until the pulled area is at least six feet from the tree’s base all the way around the trunk.
Is ivy removal a one time event?
No. While any reduction of ivy biomass is good and any thwarting of its advance is important, serious removal requires follow-up and monitoring. Ivy infestation in areas should be revisited at least every six months.