Frequently Asked Questions

General

Am I located in the Johnson County Wastewater Service Area?

If your home or business is located in Countryside, Fairway, Lake Quivira, Leawood, Lenexa, Merriam, Mission, Overland Park, Prairie Village, Roeland Park, Shawnee, Westwood, or Westwood Hills, chances are you are in the Johnson County Wastewater service area.

Johnson County Wastewater also serves businesses at the New Century Air Center in Gardner. If you are located in Mission Hills or Olathe, or need to know about a specific property, please call 913-715-8520.

Who should I call if I have a sewer backup?

Typically, a backup of any drain not located on the lowest level of your home is due to an internal clog and a plumber can help with that. If a backup is occurring in your main drain or multiple fixtures in your home are backing up at the same time you may have a sewer backup.

A plumber can diagnose the problem or you can call JCW at 913-715-8600 24/7 for help solving the problem. During heavy rain events, calls will be responded to in the order in which they are received.

Is my home or property connected to the sanitary sewers?

To find out if a specific home or business is connected to Johnson County Wastewater's sewer system, please call 913-715-8520.

Are Johnson County Wastewater and Johnson County Water District No. 1 the same organization?

No. Johnson County Wastewater is a sanitary sewer provider in Johnson County, Kansas. We are a county department that operates under the Johnson County Board of Commissioners. Water District No. 1 is a drinking water provider for Johnson County. They operate under their own governing board. You may contact them by calling 913-895-1800.

Who should I call about odor problems in my home?

First, if the odor is a rotten egg smell, please leave the home and call your natural gas provider to make sure the odor is not a gas leak. If natural gas is not the issue, check to make sure all drains in your home have water in them, and don’t forget the washing machine drain and basement floor drains.

Typically, a cup or two of water will fill up the trap in the drain and stop any sewer smell from escaping. (For infrequently used drains try adding a tablespoon of vegetable oil along with the water to the drain. The oil will act as a barrier and keep the water from evaporating so quickly.)

If odors persist, contact Johnson County Wastewater at 913-715-8600 for help diagnosing the problem. They will also be able to tell you if JCW crews are cleaning lines in your area which could cause a temporary odor. 

Do I call Johnson County Wastewater about storm sewer problems?

No. Johnson County Wastewater only provides sanitary sewer services. Storm sewers are maintained by the city in which they are located. Storm sewers are identified as the large grates in streets and near curbs. You should contact your city hall for questions or problems concerning storm sewers.

What may I dump down the sewers or my drains?

Chemicals should not be dumped down the sewer drain. To properly dispose of household chemicals, please contact Johnson County's Environmental Division at 913-715-6900 for additional information on the location and hours of operation of the Household Hazardous Waste Disposal.

What are Johnson County Wastewater's statistics such as how many miles of sewer lines the county has?

You can review our about us page for that kind of departmental information.

Should I call JCW about utility markings or flags located in my yard?

If you have questions concerning utility markings or flags located in your yard, please call 811 or visit www.kansas811.com. Kansas One Call can answer your questions.

JCW does not provide location services and does not have the ability to assist with questions concerning flags or markings

Can I schedule an appointment with JCW for a drop off at the Household Hazardous Waste facility?

Can I connect my sump pumps discharge to the sanitary sewer?

It is against code (Resolution WD 92-22) to connect your sump pump (or any other sources of groundwater directly to the sanitary sewer).

Connecting the sump pump discharge could potentially cause your basement to backup or a neighbor’s basement by overloading the system with groundwater. The excess groundwater can also overload the sewage treatment plants.

 

Who is responsible for my homes service lateral?

The pipe that connects your home to JCW’s public sanitary sewer main is private property. This pipe is known as the home’s service line, or service lateral. As the owner of the service line, homeowners are responsible for the maintenance, repair and replacement of their private service line and its connection point on the public sanitary sewer main.

Should your service line need to be repaired or replaced, please make certain that you or your plumber contacts JCW at 913-715-8520 for more information.

 

Wastewater Bill, Relation to Water Bill

What is the difference between my water bill and wastewater bill?

Charges from Johnson County Wastewater are for the safe and efficient transport of wastewater from your home and the treatment of that water before returning it to area creeks, lakes, and rivers. Public water utilities bill you for the water that comes into your home for drinking, cooking, bathing, and watering your lawn.

When will I receive my first bill? Will I get my water bill and wastewater bill at the same time?

Johnson County Wastewater billing statements follow the public water utilities by about two weeks.

Why aren’t the water bill and wastewater bill combined?

Because Johnson County Wastewater is a separate utility that is not associated with any of the independently owned and operated water companies providing water service within our service district, it is necessary for us to send a separate billing statement.

Johnson County Wastewater and the public water utilities are separate entities and are governed by different governmental bodies. If you have questions about your wastewater bill, please call 913-715-8590. If you have questions about your water bill, please contact your water company.

Residential Fee Determination

Which months will Johnson County Wastewater use to calculate my winter water usage?

The customer's average winter water use will be based on four of the six months between November and April, depending on the customer's billing cycle.

I have a swimming pool. Will I have to pay for filling my pool?

Winter water usage is used in the wastewater bill calculation to avoid charging for usual heavier summer uses such as watering your lawn and garden, washing your car, or filling your swimming pool. If you don’t fill your swimming pool during the winter months, it won’t affect your water usage information for your wastewater bill. All of these water uses do not impact the wastewater treatment system.

I just moved into a new house. How will my “average winter water use” be determined?

New customers moving from outside Johnson County Wastewater’s service area will be assigned a default value user charge that is equal to the average winter water use for all residential customers. If new customers provide Johnson County Wastewater with their previous account information, Johnson County Wastewater will calculate an appropriate average winter water use using the information provided.

Johnson County Wastewater customers who move within the sanitary sewer district may request to transfer the average winter water use from their previous address.

What is the average winter water use (AWWU)?

This is your average water usage during winter months based on meter readings. This is the best measure of the volume of drinkable water used at the property during the winter months that reasonably estimates the volume of wastewater discharged to the wastewater treatment facilities of Johnson County Wastewater.

By using winter water usage, Johnson County Wastewater can accurately estimate the volume of wastewater discharged into the treatment facilities by each property. Winter water usage is used to avoid charging for heavier summer uses that do not impact the wastewater treatment system like watering your lawn and garden, washing your car, or filling your swimming pool.

What is the Customer Service Charge for?

The Customer Service Charge recovers all administrative costs associated with an ongoing billing and collections system, and a portion of the cost to treat inflow and infiltration (I&I) from storm and groundwater. All user classes are charged this fee.

How are my sewer charges calculated?

Residential charges are determined by multiplying the annual volume of average winter water usage by the rate and adding the customer service charge [(Volume x Rate) + customer service charge = Amount]. This amount will be divided by 12 calendar months, which will give you your monthly charge. Since residential customers are billed bimonthly, your bill has two months' worth of wastewater charges.

I leave my home for the winter. Must I pay a wastewater bill?

Yes, you will be invoiced based on the default value user charge or the average of your water use during the non-winter months, whichever is less.  The default is based on the average residential winter water use for all residential customers. 

The default user charge is used when the average winter water use appears to be an inaccurate measure of average use, or a customer does not have winter water usage. If you feel that the periods used to calculate your winter water use are inaccurate or not a reflection of your usage, you are required to have and to maintain reasonable documents and records to reflect the use, by volume and strength, of the sewerage system.

Please contact JCW Customer Service if you require further assistance.

What if I had a water leak during the winter months and it was repaired, but the winter water usage on my wastewater bill doesn’t reflect the adjustment I received from the public water utility?

Please call the Johnson County Wastewater Customer Service Center at 913-715-8590 to report all billing issues.

Why has my wastewater bill increased so much since the early 2000s?

The increase in rates over the past two decades has climbed, but the comparison to the bill then versus now is not a clear-cut one. 

The capital and operating rates are now combined into a single rate because we changed our capital rate methodology to be the same as our operating rate, which is based on water use. This change means it is not possible to accurately calculate the percentage increase of rates when comparing current rates to those charged prior to 2014 without assistance from JCW staff. 

The user charge rate prior to 2014 did not include a capital component as it does today. To accurately compare rates, you have to include the capital portion of JCW’s rates. Prior to 2012, capital costs were recovered by the fixed Equivalent Dwelling Unit (EDU) charge that was billed on the annual real estate tax statements. In 2013, JCW moved the EDU from the tax roll to the user charge bill.

In 2014, JCW completed a multi-year conversion of its billing method to a unified rate model. This was the first year JCW billed a combined rate and the larger than normal increases in the service charge and volume rates were due to adding the capital component to the rates.

What is the rate increase in 2021?

In 2021, JCW’s revenue requirement increased by 5.75 percent, which equates to $2.35 a month for the median household or $4.70 on each bi-monthly bill. The revenue requirement represents the total amount of money JCW must collect from customers to pay all costs.   

A large increase in your average winter water use (AWWU) will impact wastewater charges more than rate increases.

Why do wastewater rates go up every year?

There are several reasons for annual rate increases. They include:

Inflation – The industry sees increased costs to do business, including costs for power, chemicals, solids disposal and labor costs.

Water quality compliance requirements is another driver of increased costs. Because the water is returned to streams, river, etc. once it has been treated, the EPA continues to increase regulatory requirements to protect public health, protect the environment and ensure clean water. For example, JCW has been directed to uphold:

New ammonia release criteria for area waterways, which will provide better protection for fish and other aquatic life. 

Increased nutrient removal requirements. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus facilitate algae growth which results in the oxygen depletion that affect fish and other aquatic life in local streams and lakes as well as larger downstream water bodies such as the Gulf of Mexico where large fish kills have occurred over the last several decades. 

Continued investment in preventive maintenance – Unlike many utilities, JCW has a fiscally responsible and proactive asset management, maintenance and repair program that helps keep the cost of operating and maintaining the wastewater system lower by avoiding expensive repairs and clean-up costs resulting from deferred maintenance of sanitary sewer pipes and wastewater treatment equipment.

By reinvesting in our aging system, JCW has significantly reduced the occurrences of collapsing pipes and public health issues from back-ups and raw sewage overflows. By investing a little at a time you get more out of the system by improving the durability, life and reliability of the county’s assets, thus lessening the impact to rates.

How do Johnson County’s Wastewater rates compare to other rates in the metro?

JCW’s rates are among the lowest in the metro and have been consistently so for many years because we have pro-actively reinvested in our system with activities such as repair, replacement and preventative maintenance. Our collection system is a huge investment worth $1.7 billion. See how JCW compares to other wastewater utilities. 

If the Tomahawk project is supposed to save so much money, why are rates going up?

Tomahawk is only one of several factors that causes rate increases every year.  

By increasing the size of the plant, we will no longer need to send 60 percent of our wastewater which is treated at the Tomahawk Creek facility to Kansas City, Missouri for treatment, allowing us to better control our costs and be much more efficient. Therefore, the Tomahawk Project will significantly lessen the amount of rate increases in the future. 

Once the project is completed, we will be saving approximately $16 million annually by not sending flow to KCMO and paying them to do the treatment. Over a 35 year period, it will save JCW hundreds of millions of dollars.  

Without the improvements to Tomahawk, significant savings would not be possible in the future because we would continue to pay KCMO for treatment, and this would result in much higher annual rate increases for customers. 

Initiating Service

Is a deposit required for wastewater service?

Currently, Johnson County Wastewater does not require a deposit for service.

Billing Process

How often are the wastewater bills distributed?

Johnson County Wastewater bills are distributed every other month to residential properties and monthly to commercial and industrial customers. Look for billing statements in envelopes clearly marked with the Johnson County Wastewater logo and address.

How long do I have to pay my bill?

The due date is 30 days from the statement date.

How may I pay my bill?

Please visit Payment Options.

What happens if I don’t pay my wastewater bill on time?

Bills will be due within 30 days of the billing date. A delinquent notice will be mailed five days after the due date if payment has not been received. The delinquent amount will be subject to the accrual of interest and a late fee.

What do I do if I have a billing question or think there is an error on my bill?

Please call the Johnson County Wastewater Customer Service Center at 913-715-8590 to report all billing issues.

Renting and Selling

Must I notify anyone at Johnson County Wastewater (for billing purposes) if I buy or sell a house?

Yes. Please call the Customer Service Center and inform them of all billing changes or fill out the reverse side of your payment stub on your final bill.

If I rent, whose name will be on the account?

The name on the Johnson County Wastewater account will be the same as the name on the public water utility's account, unless Johnson County Wastewater is directed otherwise.

Alternate Savings

I’m a senior citizen living on a fixed income. Am I entitled to a discount?

No. Please contact the Johnson County Department of Aging and Human Services to see if you are eligible for utility assistance with this bill. That number is 913-715-6653.

Is anyone exempt from paying a user fee?

Yes, anyone not connected to Johnson County Wastewater’s sanitary sewer system will not pay a User Charge.

Do I pay a user fee if I am on a septic tank system?

No. Septic tank users do not pay the User Charge because they are not connected to the sanitary sewer system.

Long Range Classifications

What are the user classifications under the billing system?

There are six classifications:

  • Residential (single-family dwellings)
  • Multi-family residential (apartment complexes, duplexes, etc.)
  • Small Commercial (wastewater discharge of 27,000 gallons per day or less)
  • Large Commercial and Industrial (wastewater discharge of more than 27,000 gallons per day)
  • Subscribers (wholesale customers such as other political units and municipal corporations within the Johnson County Wastewater Sewer District)
  • Exempt (real estate property in the Johnson County Wastewater Sewer District are determined to be exempt from ad valorem taxes, but not from wastewater charges)

My water bill is in cubic feet and my wastewater bill is in gallons. How do I convert from cubic feet to gallons?

There are 7.48 gallons per cubic foot (7.48 x cubic feet = gallons).

What is the difference between storm water and wastewater?

Storm water is water from rain and other sources that drains into a street drainage system where it flows to streams and creeks. Storm water drainage systems help prevent flooding and bank erosion. These systems are typically maintained by the cities in Johnson County. 

Storm water services are provided by Johnson County Public Works in unincorporated areas of the county. Individual cities within the county provided storm water services for incorporated areas. Johnson County Wastewater does not provide storm water services. 

Wastewater is used water from homes and businesses. Johnson County Wastewater collects, transports, and treats wastewater before it is returned to streams and creeks.

What is Johnson County Wastewater’s long-range rate plan for wastewater services?

As part of its strategic planning process, Johnson County Wastewater annually reviews its operations and plans rate adjustments accordingly, based on changes in the economy and prices for utilities and chemicals used in the operations of wastewater facilities.

After a thorough examination by an industry leader in utility rate analysis, Johnson County Wastewater submits the Operation and Maintenance Budget and the user charge rates to the Johnson County Board of Commissioners (BOCC), for approval. JCW will continue to work closely with the BOCC to ensure the best interests and needs of customers are being addressed.

Line Cleaning

Why am I hearing noises in my sewer or why are bubbles coming up through my fixtures or toilet?

JCW crews may be cleaning lines in your area, which can occasionally cause this to happen. We typically have nine crews cleaning more than 2.5 million feet of sewer lines each year! Crews typically operate between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, but may be out afterhours as well.

As long as your fixtures are draining okay there should be no cause for alarm. Keeping lids closed on toilets can help reduce any noise or water splashing out if the toilet bubbles. If you still have questions you may call us 24/7 at 913-715-8600.

How do I locate my sewer main?

Please call Kansas One Call for sewer locates before any construction or excavation in your yard to verify sewer main location at 811. Kansas One Call is the authorized utility location center for the state of Kansas.

What are JCW crews doing in my neighborhood?

JCW has crews cleaning, inspecting, and repairing sewer lines year-round. Their presence does not necessarily mean there is an issue with the sewer in your neighborhood. If you are curious when the sewer mains in your neighborhood are due to be cleaned, please use our interactive map.