Frequently Asked Questions

If I have questions about my account, who do I call?

Customer Accounts at (618) 337-9000

How can I find out more concerning my account?

Complete the Account Questions form.  After completing the request, it will be automatically emailed to our Customer Accounts department.  One of our representatives will get back with you.

I‘m getting an American Bottoms bill. What’s this bill for?

American Bottoms Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility treats the “dirty” water that leaves your home or your business along with water that goes into some of the storm water drains along the roadways.

You pay for wastewater services based on water usage reported to us from your water company.  When you bathe, do laundry, flush, do dishes, brush your teeth, etc. the water that goes out of your home comes to us through a network of sewer systems feeding into our facility.  We treat it, sample it, analyze the results, dispose of the solids, and finally release the cleaned water into the Mississippi River.  You can learn more about this process via our virtual tour

The Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972 under the United Stated Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).  American Bottoms started serving the community in 1986 as a result of the Clean Water Act and has been in operation 24/7 ever since.  We are highly regulated through state and federal agencies including the IEPA, the USEPA, and OSHA.

How can I pay my bill?

There are several ways you can pay your American Bottoms Bill:

Note: We do not recommend you pay by mail if you received a water disconnect notice.

  • Pay Stations – listed on your bill
  • 24/7 Automated pay system – call (866) 933-6251
  • AB Customer Accounts – call (618) 337-9000
  • Direct Pay – Print form

How is my bill calculated? It seems to vary month to month.

American Bottoms receives water usage records from your water company every month.  Your bill is based on the amount of water used times the rate we’ve set for that fiscal year.   American Bottoms’ rate is reviewed annually.  The rates American Bottoms charges are not the same as the rates charged by your Water Company, so these two bills may not be the same.

Your bill will vary when your water usage varies.   If the water company estimates your reading, your bill may be different than usual.  Your bill can also be different depending on the number of days between your meter readings.  If your bill jumps unexpectedly, it may be due to a leak or more days between meter readings.  Get leaks repaired quickly before they become expensive problems.

I have a very large collection bill. Is there some payment plan I might qualify for?

For a limited time, American Bottoms is offering Settlement Agreements to those customers who have outstanding collection balances.  If you have been receiving a monthly blue and white bill, you have an outstanding collection balance and may be eligible to participate in American Bottoms’ final Settlement Program.  Should you elect to participate in this program, you will be allowed to pay off your current collection balance at no interest by choosing from a sliding scale of pre-negotiated settlement balances and payment periods.

Your Agreement will remain in force provided you make timely payments on both your Settlement Agreement and your monthly treatment bill.  Once your reduced balance is paid, American Bottoms will release its liens and forgive the amount by which the collection balance was reduced, provided your current bill remains paid.

Even though American Bottoms files liens on properties with ourstanding balances, some customers push the burden of repayment to their heirs.  In this program an agreement that goes into default because of death, diminished capacity, etc. can be transferred to the customer’s heirs, administrator, or other party wishing to assume the liability.  We hope this will give our customers an incentive to put something in place now to help others obtain a lien-free property.

If you are interested in learning more about this settlement program, call 618-337-9000 and talk to one of our customer service representatives.  They’ll be glad to let you know what needs to be done to qualify for a settlement.  After your account qualifies for a settlement, we’ll mail you an Offer Letter with your options.  It’s that easy to start the process.

I’d like the bill sent to another address, who do I call?

Customer Accounts at (618) 337-9000

I’d like to change the name on my bill, who do I call?

First call your water company.  After the water company changes your name, call American Bottoms’ Customer Accounts, (618) 337-9000.  We cannot change the name until your water company makes the change.

Who’s responsible for paying this bill, I rent?

The service user on our records must match the water company records.  If you rent, the landlord may have specified this payment on your lease agreement; however, that is between you and your landlord.  If bills go unpaid, water discontinuance, law suits, and/or liens may result.  Ultimately, anyone living in the household is responsible for this bill.

I pay my water bill, but I received a notice for disconnect from you, why?

Illinois Complied Statues:  Chapter 65 ILCS 11/141-7 allows American Bottoms to require water companies to discontinue water service for unpaid wastewater bills.  American Bottoms pays each water company for this shutoff service and lost revenue charges.  These fees are passed on to the customer.

The very best way to avoid water shutoff is to pay your bill each month and not carry a balance forward.

What do I do when I get a notice that my water might be shut off?

Follow the instructions on your letter.  Call Customer Accounts at (618) 337-9000 to find out the amount you need to pay to avoid shutoff.  After you pay call Customer Accounts to verify your payment.

My water just got shutoff. What do I need to do to get it turned back on?

If your water was turned off for a delinquent American Bottoms bill, call (618) 337-9000.  Any of the Customer Account Reps can tell you the amount you’ll need to pay for restoration.  You’ll also be required to pay for all the fees the water company charges American Bottoms for their services.

What are the fees I’m responsible for if I got a water shutoff notification?

Your water company does water shutoffs for us if you do not pay your American Bottoms bill.  Your water company charges us for this service, and we pass these fees back to our customers.  Depending on the water company you use, the fees will vary.  The notices you get will detail these fees.  If you tamper with your meter, you will be charged additional fees.

What’s the current rate?

$3.98 per 1,000 gallons, or

$2.98 per 100 cubic feet (if your water records are cubic feet versus gallons)

Between July 1 and September 30, we lower our rates by 10% as a summertime courtesy adjustment.

Additional charges apply for industrial customers.

Do I have to pay for filling my backyard pool?

Maybe.  American Bottoms will give pool credits to customers who have requested a credit, but only if each of the following is true:

  • Pool capacity is 4,500 or more gallons
  • Customer has no collection balance
  • Customer’s monthly bill is paid in full every month for the past 8 billing cycles
  • Customer called after pool was filled but before September 30th
  • Customer’s pool has been verified by a Customer Account rep visit
  • No previous pool credit has been given for the year
  • Customer has not been in water shutoff review for the past year

I’m getting more than one bill from American Bottoms, why?

There are actually several reasons you may be receiving more than one bill:

  • Monthly treatment charges are mailed on a brown and white postcard bill – this is your “current bill” and represents the charges you are currently incurring from your monthly usage, any amount that is delinquent, plus fees.
  • Customers who have let their current bill get too delinquent might be turned over to collections which results in a separate bill on a blue and white postcard bill
  • Owners may receive a courtesy bill when their tenants are delinquent
  • If customers move and leave a balance, bills will continue to go to those customers at their last known address

I established service with the water, the gas, the phone, the electric companies, etc. but I never called you to establish service. Why am I getting a bill from you?

Once you establish water service, you’re automatically added as an account with us.  The wastewater treatment services are tied to your having water services, that’s also why your water can be disconnected if you don’t pay either bill.

I’m paying several companies for water. How is this possible?

Residents may be paying multiple bills related to water, possibly 3 different bills.

  1. Water Bill (for your clean tap water)
  2. Sewer Bill (for the pipes that bring your wastewater to American Bottoms)
  3. Wastewater Treatment Bill (for American Bottoms to clean your wastewater)

In some cities, some of these services may be combined on one bill because they are all done by the same company.  Here, American Bottoms is a separate company providing specialized services, thus a separate bill you must pay.

My spouse filed bankruptcy and the American Bottoms‘ bill is in my name. Can I include these charges in my spouse’s bankruptcy?

No.  The delinquent charges will be included in a spouse’s bankruptcy only if he/she is the service user; however, if that’s the case, the other spouse will be liable for the charges.  Either way, one of the spouses will always be responsible for the delinquent balance.

I‘m a landlord with several properties. How do I know if my tenants are paying? I don’t want to be responsible for the bills if they leave a balance behind.

American Bottoms can sue the customer for unpaid balances or file a lien against the property.  Landlords can help themselves by doing one or more of the following:

  • Request a consolidated monthly report which shows the activity on each of your properties
  • Put the bill in your name and collect additional rent
  • Call AB Customer Accounts (618) 337-9000 for payment statuses
  • Request water shutoff – provided the account meets the necessary criteria
  • Take action when you receive an owner notification – these are mailed to the owner when a tenant’s bill becomes delinquent
  • Call AB Customer Accounts (618) 337-9000 with forwarding addresses and social security numbers of prior tenants who’ve left unpaid balances

I‘m a landlord. I notice there is, or is about to be, a lien on one of my properties. Your bill is not in my name, it’s in my tenant’s name. How can you make me responsible for any unpaid balance left by my tenant?

American Bottoms can place a lien on the property where service was provided pursuant to State of
Illinois Statute 65 ILCS 5/11-141-7.  To avoid liens, landlords should consider the suggestions noted
above.

I have a lien on my property. How can I get this released?

Call Customer Accounts at (618) 337-9000 for your balance.  Once the balance is paid, American Bottoms will send you a lien release letter.  Take this letter to the St. Clair County Courthouse Recorder of Deeds Office to have the lien formally released.  This entire process can take several weeks unless the payment is made by cash or money order.

I just bought this property and I find out it has a lien on it. Am I responsible for it?

Yes.  The lien is against the property, not the person.  The lien will continue to follow the property regardless of the owner.

This is often the case when property changes ownership through “Quit Claim Deeds.”  Our best advice to you is to always do a title search regardless of how you are purchasing property.  Not doing this can be a costly oversight.

I got a summons to appear in court. How can I avoid this?

You may be able to set up an “agreement to pay” before your court date; however, once an account has been placed with the American Bottoms’ attorney, all questions should be referred to that office:

Daniel Hayes Law Office at (618) 355-0660.

I hardly use any water yet my consumption is high. How come?

You may have a leak in your plumbing or a running toilet. Certain activities like doing many loads of laundry, or taking long showers can have a big impact on the amount of water you use.

What can I do to decrease my consumption?

Use a low flow shower nozzle and low flow toilets.   A low flow showerhead can decrease one’s bath consumption by 50% or more.

Keep a daily log of how you’re using water (i.e., lawn watering, car washing, how many times the toilet is used, how many showers are taken in a day and for how long, and how much laundry is being done) and reduce the frequency if possible.

Use a bucket with a sponge plus a trigger nozzle on the hose to wash your vehicle. Compared to a running hose, you will save over 79 gallons of water.

Make sure you are doing a full load of laundry and the dishwasher is full when you use it.

Some people put a plastic jug of water in the tank of older toilets so the tank doesn’t fill up entirely.

How can I tell if I have a leak?

The easiest way to determine if there is a leak is to make sure all the taps are turned off in the house and that there is no water being used (including humidifiers, air conditioners and ice machines).

Go to the water meter and if the meter is moving, then there is a leak somewhere in the plumbing.

I found a leak, and now it’s fixed. What should I do?

First tell your water company about this.  You’ll probably be asked to send proof of repair so don’t throw your receipts away!  Next, call us at (618) 337-9000 and report your repair.  We’ll watch for the water company’s adjustment and we’ll adjust accordingly.  We may also request copies of these same receipts.

I’m moving, what do I need to do?

First, call your Water Company.  Then call American Bottoms at 618-337-9000 to let us know you’re moving, and give us your forwarding address.  Your account with American Bottoms will close after the water company sends us your final water usage data, and we’ll mail this final bill to your new address.

I‘m a new, or previous owner, should I let American Bottoms know if I’ve sold or purchased property in this service area?

It’s important to let American Bottoms know if you’ve sold or purchased property in our service area.  By doing this, American Bottoms can send delinquent notifications to the proper owner and your risk of liens can be decreased.

The person on the bill I get has (died or no longer lives here). Why should I be responsible for the charges when it was under his/her name?

Tenants of the home are equally responsible for our bills.  The debt is not discharged simply because another household member is now the service user.

What types of wastewaters can American Bottoms accept?

Because American Bottoms is actually two wastewater plants – one with physical-chemical treatment processes and one with advanced biological treatment – we can accept hauled wastewaters that other municipal plants can’t. Although we can’t accept hazardous waste, we can take high or low pH wastewaters, oily wastewaters, metal-bearing wastewaters, and more.

Our multiple treatment processes allow us to accept a variety of wastewaters. We can accept wastewaters with

  • pH between 3 and 11
  • significant concentrations of most metals
  • oil content up to 10%

We can accept many wastewaters of the following types:

  • petroleum-contaminated water from underground storage tanks and site remediation
  • high organic strength liquids such as food processing wastewaters, etc.
  • special wastewater such as landfill leachate

Unfortunately, we can’t accept food service grease, or wastewaters containing PCBs, pesticides, or significant amounts of mercury. We also can’t accept wastewaters containing hazardous waste.

Wastewaters regulated by USEPA as “categorical” must meet USEPA standards and permitting requirements when discharged to any publicly owned treatment plant, including ours. Not sure if your wastewater is “categorical,” contact us, and let us assist.

How much will it cost to discharge hauled wastewater at American Bottoms?

Typical hauled wastewater charges are 7 – 8 ¢ per gallon, more for very high strength, one time discharges, or special permitting. Charges are based on truck capacity.

How do I apply for approval to discharge?

You may apply by phone, (618) 337-9726, or send a completed request form via email (HauledWastewater@AmericanBottoms.com) or fax (618) 337-8919. Generators or transporters may apply.

Once approval is received, a hauled wastewater agreement listing the pricing, nature of discharge, and conditions of discharge will be provided for signature.

In some limited cases, a pretreatment permit could be required.

What paperwork will need to be completed with a shipment of hauled wastewater?

Two forms accompany each load of hauled wastewater: a special waste manifest and a hauled wastewater tracking form.

The approved transporter will have special waste manifests as required by IEPA, which are to be signed by the generator, transporter, and an American Bottoms employee. American Bottoms will return the signed special waste manifest to the generator after the wastewater is received.

An American Bottoms hauled wastewater tracking form also accompanies each load. American Bottoms will provide copies of the form to the generator or transporter. The forms identify the type and volume of wastewater and are signed by the generator and transporter. The truck volume, which is used for billing, is recorded on the tracking form. A copy of the tracking form is retained by the transporter.

What hours do you accept hauled wastewater?

Normal receiving hours are 7:30 am – 3:00 pm Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. Arrangements for deliveries outside normal receiving hours must be made in advance.

A surcharge of 33.3% will be applied for any wastewater accepted on Saturday, Sunday, holidays, or outside the normal receiving hours of 7:30 am – 3:00 pm Monday through Friday.

American Bottoms Plant reserves the right to refuse any load for discharge, in its complete discretion. Customers are advised to call ahead, especially during inclement weather and periods of high rainfall, in order to avoid delays and rescheduling.

How long does it take to obtain approval?

American Bottoms understands that long delays for approvals are undesirable and will work with you for quick approval.

If you have complete information on the proposed discharge, we can usually provide you with an approval decision and an acceptance agreement within a day or two.  Please call directly at 618-337-9726 if you need a rapid response.

How do I locate an approved transporter?

American Bottoms can provide you with contact information for transporters who are already approved or will work with your transporter to obtain approval for discharge. Approved transporters must meet insurance requirements and have a non-hazardous special waste hauling permit from IEPA.

How do I become an approved transporter?

Approved transporters must meet insurance requirements and have a non-hazardous special waste hauling permit from IEPA. These two requirements can usually be satisfied in as little as a few days. Contact us at (618) 337-9726 or email us at HauledWastewater@AmericanBottoms.com for details.

How am I billed for wastewater services?

Charges will be based on total tank capacity of the vehicle hauling the wastewater.  If the amount of wastewater discharged is less than the truck capacity, the charge will be based on the total tank capacity of the vehicle.

Charges will be renegotiated at any time that American Bottoms’ user discharges change, the wastewater is found to differ in strength from the characteristics represented in the request to discharge, or other factors affecting the cost to treat change.

Bills are due and payable at and upon mailing and bear a late payment charge of 5.0% if not paid within twenty one calendar days of the date of billing. If the bill and late payment charge, if any, are not paid within fifty-one calendar days of the date of billing, they thereafter bear interest at the rate of two percent per month (compounded monthly) until paid.

A surcharge of 33.3% will be applied for any wastewater accepted on Saturday, Sunday, holidays, or outside the normal receiving hours of 7:30 am – 3:00 pm Monday through Friday. Arrangements for deliveries outside normal receiving hours must be made in advance.

Can I discharge pretreatment wastewaters?

Yes, but you must apply for a pre-treatment permit to discharge pre-treatment wastewaters if they are “categorical” wastewaters according to the USEPA, and we will need to conduct monitoring and inspections required by federal pre-treatment requirements.  Wastewaters regulated by USEPA as “categorical” must meet USEPA standards and permitting requirements when discharged to any publicly owned treatment plant, including ours. Not sure if your wastewater is “categorical,” see this list of categorical operations or contact us at (618) 337-9726 or email us at HauledWastewater@AmericanBottoms.com and let us assist you.

How can I minimize the time to discharge on site?

Call our operations staff 15 – 30 minutes before you arrive at (314) 575-7465. We will have a plant operator ready.

Where can the truck discharge approved hauled wastewaters?

Hauled wastewaters can only be discharged after approval and at the approved discharge point. Call us at (618) 337-9709 or (314) 393-4500 to discuss the location and logistics of discharge.

What laboratory test data must I provide to obtain approval?

The laboratory test data you need depends on the type of wastewater.  Contact us for a determination.

Can you accept low pH or high pH wastewater?

Yes, we can accept wastewater from pH 3 up to pH 11.

I understand that American Bottoms can’t accept "categorical" wastewaters without special permitting. How do I know if I have a categorical wastewater?

Not sure if your wastewater is “categorical?”  See this list of categorical operations or contact us at (618) 337-9726 or email us at HauledWastewater@AmericanBottoms.com and let us assist you.