The Water Department bills for water usage and other fees based on rates set by the Board of Water Commissioners. A rate hearing is usually held in the spring and is advertised in local papers. Click here for a listing of our current rates and charges. The revenue generated funds the Department's activities and capital improvements. We operate on an enterprise accounting system that keeps our funds completely separate from other Town departments.

We receive calls about higher than normal water bills on a regular basis. Under normal circumstances we’d schedule an appointment to visually check the meter, look for leaks, etc. However, we are not entering homes or businesses for the foreseeable future unless it’s for an emergency.

When confronted with a high bill, customers often ask questions such as where did the water go or how could I possibly use that much water. Well the simplest answer is that from the limited information available, there is really no possible way for us to know where the water went once it went through the meter. The information used to generate the bill – start and end meter readings can be augmented with one or two readings taken during the billing cycle and that is about it. A similar question would be where did I drive my car over the past 3 months based on start/end odometer readings. The result would be a similar answer - we don’t know where you went, just how far.

However, if monthly readings are available then the pattern and volume of use may make one explanation more reasonable than others but in the end it’s our best guess. In some cases, an explanation can’t be found and it comes down to meter accuracy – did the water go through the meter or not. Meters are typically pulled and sent to a vendor for testing when this occurs. 

 Once the readings are verified then we can start asking questions such as:


Beginning in July 2008, the majority of our customers are billed on a quarterly basis. One third of our customers are billed each month to distribute the workload and cash flow as evenly as possible over the year. Each quarter contains 3 billing cycles. Cycle #1 customers are billed during the first month of the quarter - January, April, July and October. Cycle #2 customers are billed in February, May, August and November. Cycle #3 customers are billed in March, June, September and December.

We are happy to bill customers monthly if they wish. This is a popular option for some residents that participated in the monthly billing pilot study and with customers that want to monitor their water use and related expenses at a finer scale.

Customers that use online banking systems should send payments to the Town Collector, 8 West Common Street, Topsfield, MA 01983 rather than the Post Office Box listed on the return envelope. Online banking systems, except for the Town's Unibank system, do not issue payments electronically - the bank issues a printed check and mails it. Sometimes the check isn't mailed for several days.

The PO Box on the return envelope is actually a Century Bank automated lock box that processes payments based on information printed on the bill stub. If the scan line beneath the stub's mailing address is unreadable, or the stub is missing, then the lock box rejects the payment and forwards it to the Town Hall for manual processing.

In the event you need to make a payment to avoid a late penalty or termination of service, the safest thing to do is drop your payment off at the Town Hall. The Town Treasurer & Collector's Office hours are posted online and there is a drop box at the front door near the Town Clerks' Office that is checked daily. Late fees are typically calculated seven days after the due date to allow for any payments that might have been in transit near the due date.

Including the bill stub with your payment helps reduce our labor costs by reducing the number of hours spent processing and posting manual payments.

If your bill is not paid by the due date then a notice will be sent to you concerning the late payment. Your balance may be subject to a late fee. If your bill is not paid within 30 days after the due date then a second notice will be mailed to you. You may be subject to another late fee and your water service may be terminated if the bill is not paid within ten business days.

Unpaid bills represent a lien on your property by the Town of Topsfield pursuant to the Massachusetts General Law GLC 40, Section 42A-42F.


Pay your water bill online

81009 83017 0Please visit the Unibank site to pay your water or tax bills online.


Water Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


911 -  After Hours Emergency

Office Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM to 2:00 PM

Highway Department

279 Boston Street

Topsfield, MA 01983


Hours: Monday-Friday 7 AM to 3 PM