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Frequently Asked Questions

             


Billing and Payments
How often does the City bill?
Can I change my billing due date?
Does the city offer an equal pay program?
Can I enroll in paperless billing?
My bill has an error, how can I get this corrected?
Why is my name not on the bill if I live here/Why is my name on the bill if I don't live there?
How do I stop the billing for my property?
I paid my bill late, is that going to affect my credit?

How often does the City bill? The City bills all residential customers every two months. Billing cycles run from the first of an odd-numbered month to the last day of the following even-numbered month, i.e. January 1st to February 28th.

Can I change my billing due date? Due to our limited staff and resources, all of our customers are billed together and have the same due dates as set by City Council. Bills are sent to customers in the beginning of odd-numbered months, and are due on the 10th of the following even-numbered month. If you're struggling with the due date, you may consider prepaying half of your bill when you receive it in order to reduce the amount owing on the due date.

Does the City offer an equal pay program? Unfortunately, the City is not able to offer an equal pay option. Customers are welcome to make extra payments to reduce the amount owing on a due date. As long as the balance has been paid in full by the due date, there would be no penalties assessed.

Can I enroll in paperless billing? The City does not currently offer paperless billing, but customers who sign up on our online billing and payment system can choose to receive e-mail copies of their bills in addition to the hard copy.

My bill has an error, how can I get this corrected? If you believe the City has billed you for something in error, please contact the Finance Department at 360-834-2462 prior to the due date to report the suspected error. We always recommend that you open and review your bill as soon as you receive it so that there is adequate time for corrections to be addressed.

Why is my name not on the bill if I live here/Why is my name on the bill if I don't live there? In the City of Camas, the owner of a property is the City's customer at all times. We are unable to put a tenant's name on a billing. If the owner has made arrangements with the tenant to be responsible for the bill, we do have provisions that will allow the bill to be mailed to the property under the owner's name/occupant. If you are a property owner and you wish to pursue this option, please carefully review our Utility Billing Agreement to determine if this arrangement will work for your situation.

If you are a new property owner, and you have not yet seen the bill, or if you sold your property and are still receiving bills, please contact the Finance Department at 360-834-2462 immediately so that appropriate steps can be taken to correct this situation. Keep in mind that per Camas Municipal Code 13.44.040, the seller of the property is required to notify us 2 days prior to the closing date, or be held responsible for all billing up to the point the City receives notice of the ownership change.

How do I stop the billing for my property? If you've sold your property, call the Finance Department at 360-834-2462 two days prior to the closing date to prompt a final meter read and the generating of a closing bill. Your billing will cease on date the deed was legally recorded with Clark County.

If you're a tenant, and you will be vacating the property, you will need to work with the property owner to pro-rate the utility bill through your move-out date. The City does not perform meter reads or generate final bills for tenant changes.

If you only wish to have services turned off, please call the Finance Department at 360-834-2462 to request that water be turned off. Please keep in mind that billing for service does not stop when service is off, as base fees pay for maintenance of the system that makes service available even when not in use.

The City charges a fee to turn service off to a property; however, there is no fee when you wish to reconnect service. If the turn off is done to allow repairs to be done at the property, and is restored on the same day, there is no fee charged. Please keep in mind that there will still be charges accruing at the property that must be paid by the due date to avoid penalties.

I paid my bill late, is that going to affect my credit? The City does not report late payments to a credit agency.

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Garbage/Recycling/Yard Debris

I don't want to use the Camas trash/recycling service, can I cancel it?
I don't generate much trash, can I have pickup only once a month?
Why didn't they pick up my trash today?
The streets aren't that bad, why did they skip my trash due to inclement weather?
I have an extra, large item that I need to get rid of, will the garbage crew take it?
I have household hazardous waste, what should I do with it?
Will the garbage crew take my used hypodermic needles ("sharps")?
Do I have to sign up for yard debris?
If I have every-other-week garbage, is my recycling every-other-week too?

I don't want to use the Camas trash/recycling service, can I cancel it? Garbage and recycling service are compulsory for all inside-City residential customers per Camas Municipal Code 13.80.020 and 13.86.020. Customers who opt out of using the service will still be billed to cover the cost of City staff or recycling contractors checking each week for curbside refuse and recycling.

I don't generate much trash, can I have pickup only once a month? The lowest level of trash pickup the City offers is every-other-week pickup. If you are not currently signed up for every-other-week trash service, contact the Finance Department at 360-834-2462 to request the lesser pickup service.

Why didn't they pick up my trash today? The only time the City will intentionally skip your trash pickup is if the pickup schedule was altered by inclement weather, a holiday, or construction/maintenance in the area. The City's holiday pickup schedule can be found here. If inclement weather or construction/maintenance are affecting pickup, the crew will return as soon as they are able.

If none of these circumstances apply, the missed pickup was likely just an oversight. You can contact the Finance Department at 360-834-2462 to request a return trip, or the Sanitation Hotline at 360-817-1531 after business hours. If the miss was due to the can not being curbside, or not being out by 6:30 am on pickup day, you may be assessed a return trip fee.

The streets aren't that bad, why did they skip my trash due to inclement weather? For the safety of all involved, the sanitation crew will only pickup in areas with streets that are safe to travel. A garbage truck even when empty weighs 27,000 lbs, and the visibility is more limited than in a regular vehicle. If a truck were to hit an unseen patch of ice or snow, it could be very hard to control or stop the massive vehicle. Rest assured that our crew will return for you trash as quickly as is safe. For updated inclement weather information, visit the Public Works page.

I have an extra, large item that I need to get rid of, will the garbage crew take it? The City will pick up a variety of large items for an additional fee (based on the item's size and weight). If you wish to inquire as to the cost for an extra item pickup and/or arrange for the item to be removed on your next pickup day, please contact the Finance Department at 360-834-2462.

I have household hazardous waste, what should I do with it? Household hazardous waste (including electronics) should never be put into the trash. These items can be taken to a local transfer station, or dropped off during a yearly household hazardous waste collection event. For information about recycling these items, try Clark County Recycling A-Z. For transfer centers and pricing, visit Clark County Self-Haul Options. The current Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event Schedule can be found here.

Will the garbage crew take my used hypodermic needles ("sharps")? For the safety all involved, we ask that you NEVER put used hypodermic needles ("sharps") in your trash. Accidental pokes and the spread of disease are a very serious risk to the workers who handle your trash both at the City level and at the transfer stations. Your pharmacy should have information about disposal options for these items, or you can read about recycling/disposing of used hypodermic needles here.

Do I have to sign up for yard debris? Yard debris is an optional service administered by Waste Connections. You can find information about this service at their website, or by calling 360-892-5370.

If I have every-other-week garbage, is my recycling every-other-week too?
Recycling is picked up weekly at all times. We do ask that you only leave it curbside for pickup when the can is full enough not to be topple over on a windy day though.

Index


Sewer
Is my residence tied into City sewer?
What is my responsibility? 
How often are the tanks pumped?
Why do the round, green sewer lids have to be exposed?
What do I do if the alarm goes off?

Is my residence tied into City sewer?
  Yes, even though you have a septic tank you are still tied into the City of Camas’ sewer main.

What is my responsibility?
  The City of Camas maintains the tank pump control panel and line leaving the tank going to the street.The homeowner maintains the line between the house and the tank. 

How often are the tanks pumped?
  The tanks are pumped every seven to ten years. The City of Camas is responsible for the pumping and routine maintenance of the tank.The homeowner should not put cleaning additives into their tank.

Why do the round, green sewer lids have to be exposed?
The City of Camas maintenance workers need to know at all times where these lids are located so they can perform routine maintenance and respond quickly to emergency service calls.

What do I do if the alarm goes off?
  Call the Operations Center during the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Mon.-Fri. at 360-817-1567. After hours, weekends or holidays call Sonitrol at 360-737-0592.  Please call immediately after silencing the alarm to prevent sewage back up at the residence.

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Sewer Billing
How is residential sewer billing changing?
Why isn’t the City strictly billing on water use, why is there a flat rate too?
What if I water during the summer?
What if I have a water leak, will it affect my sewer charges? 
What if I have a water leak during the winter when my average is calculated?
What if I have no water use during the winter, I’m a snowbird, or the water was turned off?
What if I have no billing history because I just bought the home?
What if I use a lot of water at my residence?


How is residential sewer billed?  Sewer charges are calculated based on water consumption at your residence during winter months. The amount of water used during the winter is billed directly for both water and sewer. During the remaining months of the year, sewer consumption is based on your meter reads from the January and March bills, which is water use from November through February.

Why isn’t the City strictly billing on water use, why is there a flat rate too? 
Regardless of consumption, each sewer customer creates a need for maintenance of the system simply by being connected.The flat fee for sewer is intended to cover the cost of maintenance and improvements of the sewer system, which is present even in the absence of use at your residence.

What if I water during the summer? 
The City recognizes that summertime watering of lawns and gardens does not create a greater demand upon the sewer system, and has adjusted accordingly. Customers only pay for direct use during winter months. The remainder of the year, sewer billing is based on the average water use for the non-watering months. This billing structure is designed so that customers do not pay sewer charges for water that does not enter the sewer system.

What if I have a water leak, will it affect my sewer charges?
The City has an existing water leak credit process that also credits sewer charges to a customer for leaks occurring between November and February. Credit for the water portion of your bill is still subject to the requirements listed in Camas Municipal Code 13.44.030. Leaks occurring between March and October do not affect sewer charges.

What if I have a water leak during the winter when my average is calculated?
Leaks that occur between November and February affect the winter average used for billing in the remainder of the year. To avoid having an abnormally high winter average, customers who have had a leak may apply to the Finance Department for an adjustment to their winter average. Even customers whose leaks did not meet the criteria for a credit to their bill could still be eligible for this winter average adjustment. Customers must submit proof that a leak occurred to qualify for an adjustment.

What if I have no water use during the winter because I’m a snowbird, or the water was turned off?
If a customer has no prior winter water use from which to calculate an average, the customer defaults to the average, which is 13 units in a 2-month billing cycle. This is to avoid a customer paying for no sewer use during the summer because they used no water during the winter. Although we would like to have an accurate winter average for every customer, there has to be a method for billing customers who occupy during the summer but not the winter when the average is obtained.

What if I have no billing history because I just bought the home?
In the absence of water use history, new owners default to the 13 unit average for a 2-month billing cycle until they've owned the home throughout a full winter averaging period. New owners will not have their water use based on use by the prior owner of the property.

What if I use a lot of water at my residence?
Customers who are large water consumers see direct increases in sewer billing as well. The greater your use of water, the more burden your residence places upon the sewer system, and thus the greater is your portion of sewer maintenance and operations. As always, the City strongly encourages water conservation, and those users who conserve will directly lower both water and sewer charges on their bill.

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Sprinkler Systems and Backflow Prevention
What is backflow?
What is backflow prevention?
What is a backflow prevention assembly on my sprinkler system? 
How often should I have my backflow prevention assembly tested?

What is backflow?
Backflow is defined as the flow of non-potable water (unsuitable drinking water) or other liquid, solid or gas into the distributing pipes of a potable water supply because of an unwanted reverse flow, back-siphonage or back pressure. This could allow contaminants that could be in the water to flow back into the potable water, putting the public at risk.

What is backflow prevention?
Backflow prevention is a public safety issue that is not always understood or addressed in residential irrigation designs and installations. It is important to understand that backflow prevention devices are designed to protect the City of Camas’ potable water supply from pollutants and contaminants. As a responsible home owner, you should become aware of the City of Camas’ code requirements for backflow prevention protection. Backflow devices play a key role in keeping our water safe. Knowing why they do, and why they are necessary will help you continue to keep your backflow device in compliance.

What is a backflow prevention assembly on my sprinkler system?
  All underground residential lawn sprinkler systems are required to have a backflow prevention assembly installed on the sprinkler system. Backflow prevention devices on certain residential irrigation systems are mandatory in the City of Camas. Backflow devices protect potable (drinkable) water by preventing water on your property from moving back into the main water supply.  

How often should I have my backflow prevention assembly tested?
An annual test must be performed by a tester certified by the State of Washington. The test report must then be submitted to the City of Camas. All test is the responsibility of the property owner. Reminder notices will be mailed in late spring of each year. Failure to comply with irrigation regulations may result in severing the connection to the backflow assembly or discontinuation of city water service.

Index


Stormwater Fees

What are stormwater fees?
Why do I have to pay this?
I am not connected to City utilities, so why do I receive a stormwater bill?

What are stormwater fees? Stormwater fees are assessments on your bill to help cover the cost of federally-mandated treatment of water runoff. Due to population size, in 2005 the City became large enough to be subject to requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water Act for the treatment of stormwater runoff.

Why do I have to pay this? Each building in the city impacts the ability for water to be absorbed by the ground, instead directing this water as runoff into storm drains, ditches, culverts, etc. All properties in the city with an existing structure or non-permeable surface such as paving fall into this category. Stormwater fees also help cover the cost of street cleaning and upkeep as well as the maintenance of the storm drainage system itself.

I am not connected to City utilities, so why do I receive a stormwater bill? Stormwater assessments are based on the presence of impervious surface at your property, not on a utility service. Unless all structures and impervious surface on a property are demolished, stormwater fees are assessed to the property owner of record.

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Street
How often is my street swept?
What streets are plowed by the Street Department?
Why doesn’t the City plow our neighborhood (side) streets during the storm?
How will emergency vehicles get to my home?
My sidewalk is covered with snow and ice; will the City clear it off?
Where can I find up-to-date information on snow response and garbage pickup?
Why did the plow go by my house with the blade up?
Why don’t they plow our street?
What products does the City use on the road during a snow or ice storm and are they corrosive?
The City left a bank of snow in front of our driveway when they plowed. Will they remove it?
I’m trapped in my home and can’t get out. Can someone plow my street?

How often is my street swept?
 Our goal is to sweep all public city streets approximately nine times a year. Due to environmental factors such as rain, ice, and leaves on the road, sweeping times can vary significantly. The City of Camas streets are swept in accordance with the operations and maintenance stormwater guidelines.

What streets are plowed by the Street Department?
You can view the City of Camas Snow Route map at http://www.ci.camas.wa.us/pworks/street.htm. The City has three snowplows with solid deicer and sand capabilities along with two liquid deicing units to maintain approximately 45 miles of priority routes and 75 miles of residential streets. The City has prioritized the main transportation corridor routes and the routes needed for emergency service response.  All other streets will be serviced during regularly scheduled hours after the priority routes have been plowed. Plow crews will respond to emergencies in neighborhoods if dispatched by police or fire. The City will tow abandoned vehicles that, in the opinion of the City, pose a danger to the mobility of the emergency routes. The following roads are closed by the City during inclement weather; NW Forest Home Rd. from NW 10th Ave. to NW Astor St., Division St. from NE 6th to NE 11th, NE Dallas St. from NE 6th to NE 14th, NW Dahlia Dr. from NW 31st Ave. to NW 34th Cr., NW Lacamas Lane from NW Norwood St. to NW Lake Rd.

Be prepared – City crews will not be able to plow all the roads to maintain full transportation mobility. Citizens are responsible to be prepared for extended delays during weather events, especially if you live on steep neighborhood streets. The best policy is to stay put! There is always the likelihood that you may be without water and/or power during a storm, so always have a supply of food and water on hand. If you have to travel during these times, be prepared for winter driving (have a vehicle with 4 wheel drive, studs or chains, and carry a car safety kit). Please do not park on priority routes as it makes removal of snow and ice more difficult. Most importantly, know your driving limitations.

Why doesn’t the City plow our neighborhood (side) streets during the storm?  
During a storm, the City’s limited number of plows and employees are fully utilized to maintain priority routes in a passable condition for emergency vehicle mobility City wide.  All other streets will be serviced as crews become available during regularly scheduled shifts in order to reduce overtime costs.  Since each storm is unique, the effects on the streets are prioritized by City staff for each event, and neighborhood streets are plowed considering the ability of the plows to be effective, the safety of the plow driver, and the routes for school buses and sanitation pick-up.

How will emergency vehicles get to my home? 
Street crews are in constant contact with both police and fire during an inclement weather event.  Plows will be dispatched to assist emergency vehicle access into neighborhoods for emergency response.

My sidewalk is covered with snow and ice; will the City clear it off?
No, by City Ordinance (CMC 12.04.020) it is the homeowner’s responsibility to clear the sidewalk adjacent to their property.

Where can I find up-to-date information on snow response and garbage pickup?
During an event, the most up-to-date information is on the City of Camas web site at www.cityofcamas.us.  During regular working hours (M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) you can call 817-1560 for current information.

Why did the plow go by my house with the blade up?
There are many reasons a plow operator may have the blade up. Responding to an emergency call, equipment malfunction, operator judgment that plowing will be ineffective or make things worse, operator safety, using chains to break up the ice coating to allow for future plowing are just a few of the reasons.

Our street is right off the main road, it would take just a minute to swing in and get our street plowed.  Why don’t they plow our street?
During a storm, the limited number of plows and employees are fully utilized to maintain the priority routes in good condition for Citywide emergency vehicle mobility.  If crews start doing side streets, it is our 30 year experience that we can very quickly lose the priority roads thus impairing emergency response and general mobility.  When wrecks occur or cars are abandoned on the main routes it becomes extremely difficult to reopen the main routes.

What products does the City use on the roadways during a snow or ice storm and are they corrosive? 
Prior to a storm when the road surface temperature falls below 38 degrees, the City may apply a liquid de-icer (Magnesium Chloride) to the main arterials.This product helps reduce the formation of ice and will speed the melting process after the storm.The City may also apply a solid de-icer on the main arterial hills.  Due to the expense and corrosive nature of salt, this treatment option is used sparingly. As a last resort, the City may also apply sand. All de-icing products can be corrosive to vehicles. We recommend that you wash your vehicle after major storms.The City of Camas works to minimize the amount of product applied while still maintaining effectiveness.  

When you plowed our neighborhood, the City left a bank of snow in front of our driveway.
When will they remove it? The City cannot clear individual driveways.  Plow operators make every attempt to minimize the plow impacts but must continue to plow the other neighborhoods

I’m trapped in my home and can’t get out. I need to pick up prescriptions and food – I’m out of both. Can someone plow my street?

The City will not plow the residential streets outside of the snow policy.  Citizens are responsible to be prepared for being home bound during extended periods. Network with friends, neighbors, and organizations for support. If you feel it is an emergency, call 911.

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Water
How do I know if I have a water leak?
If I have a leak what should I do?
Is the City water chlorinated?
Does the City water contain fluoride?
My water has a funny smell/color/taste, what should I do?
Why do we have low water pressure, can you increase it?
I need water turned on/off at my property, can I just do it myself to save time?

How do I know if I have a water leak?
Check your bill and make sure you do not have abnormally high water use. The City strives to monitor for abnormal spikes in water use, and as a courtesy, may send you a letter to alert you of a possible leak; however, being familiar with typical water use at your home may help you spot a leak before City staff. Visit the City's page about Water Leaks & Meter Reads for more information.

If I have a leak what should I do?
  The City’s responsibility ends at the water meter. The customer is responsible from the meter to the house including plumbing inside of the house. Some leaks may be easy to fix, while others may require a plumber. Locate your master water supply valve and label it. The master supply-valve can be turned off easily in case of a major leak or broken pipe (DO NOT turn off the City-side curbstop on the meter). The customer is also responsible for keeping the meter box free from landscaping, fences, or any obstruction that could prevent meter reading or emergency access.

Is the City water chlorinated?
Yes, as per Department of Health regulations.

Does the City water contain fluoride?
Yes, sodium fluoride is added to Camas' water to maintain good dental hygiene.

My water has a funny smell/color/taste, what should I do?
If you suspect something is not right with your water quality, please contact the Operations Center at 360-817-1563 or the Finance Department at 360-834-2462 to report your concerns. Someone from the Water Department will be dispatched to test your water for anything abnormal.

Why do we have low water pressure, can you increase it? Water pressure can be affected by many things, including your proximity to a pump station, the elevation of your home, and the setting of a pressure reducer valve (PRV). The City is required to provide water between 20-150 psi, and pressure over 80psi requires the use of a PRV. If you have low water pressure/flow and it's a recent occurrence, it may be that your PRV needs to be adjusted or replaced. If you're not sure how to adjust/replace your PRV, a licensed plumber would be able to help.

I need water turned on/off at my property, can I just do it myself to save time? Tampering with a water meter for any purpose is strictly prohibited, and can result in penalties, prosecution, and charges on your bill. Water meters are City property, and turning water service on or off at the meter curb stop may only be done by City staff. If you do not have a homeowner-side gate valve for turning water on or off yourself and you need service reconnected or disconnected, please contact the City at 360-834-2462. If you are having an emergency after working hours and need water off immediately, please call the after-hours emergency water/sewer service at 360-737-0592. 

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