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Proposed rates recognize not all water is flushed down the drain.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
One sure-fire way to make people hotter than a black leather car seat on a mid-July afternoon is to charge them for something they don’t use. Just ask the staff at the Western Virginia Water Authority.
As customers draw more water during the summer to top off the swimming pool, wash the pollen off the car, keep the vegetable and flower gardens perky or vainly try to keep the lawn from browning, the meter clicks on their sewer bill, though not a drop enters the wastewater system.
Currently, the authority views the water and sewer bills as supporting forces: Water out the tap is water down the drain.
The board, though, proposes a change as part of its plan to raise rates for both fresh and waste water utilities. In future summers, customers would continue to pay for the additional water they use, but would pay the sewer bill based on their lower winter water usage.
Some board members think this might be too complicated for customers to understand. On the contrary, it is simple and fair. A public hearing will be held in June, a perfect time for customers to remember just what it is they dislike about the current set-up.
The only problem with the plan is that it neglects to promote water conservation. And with customers’ summer bills enjoying a usage cap on the sewer portion, there might be fewer financial incentives to prompt them to set up a rain barrel, collect buckets of wasted tap water or do any of a hundred inexpensive things to conserve water.
The public hearing could offer an opportunity to remind customers the one sure-fire way to lower their bill is to draw less water.