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Water Rates To Go Up, Use Down in Chapel Hill, Carrboro District

Posted October 18, 2007

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— Tighter restrictions approved Thursday night mean residents in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and nearby areas will have to cut back more on water use or face higher charges.

The Orange Water and Sewer Authority board voted 9-0 to move to Stage 2 restrictions. They take effect Nov. 1.

Officials said residents have not met the goal of reducing water use by 10 percent since Stage 1 mandatory restrictions went into effect Sept. 27. Stage 2 restrictions call for a 15 percent reduction.

Individually metered residential customers may not use more than 800 gallons a day under the new regulations. Charges go up for every 3,000 gallons a residential customer uses in a month.

Rate increases for businesses and other non-residential customers would not go into effect unless OWASA moves to Stage 3 restrictions. Officials said they do not expect to have enact Stage 3 before the end of the year.

OWASA's University Lake-Cane Creek reservoir system was at 51.7 percent capacity, with 1.7 billion gallons available as of mid-October. That equates to a seven-month supply of water, officials said.

Under OWASA's Stage 2 restrictions:

  • Spray irrigation is banned, except for plant nurseries.
  • All other types of lawn watering are allowed at any time, but must be limited to 0.5 inches of water a week.
  • Washing vehicles is banned, except at commercial washes that recycle at least 50 percent of their water.
  • Restaurants can serve water only at a customer's request.
  • Hotels are restricted in how often they can change bed linens.
  • Re-filling ornamental fountains, ponds and such devices and washing paved areas are banned. Pressure-cleaning exterior building surfaces is allowed only before painting a building.
  • Government agencies, including fire departments, can only use water for public health and safety.

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  • whatelseisnew Oct 19, 2007

    Nobody but Carolina
    If you choose to believe that a publicly owned and publicly run water facility is not charging you another tax so be it. This is simple to me. If I pay money for something, and it goes into the government coffers it is a tax. If we did not already pay income and property taxes I would have no objections to paying for services. In fact I would prefer if that is how everything was paid for. That way if I use a service, I pay for the use. If I do not use a service I do not pay for it. I realize that it is not practical to pay for all government services this way, for example police. But water and sewer. These are basic services that your city taxes should be covering. The politicians like to do these things because it helps hide how much you are being gouged. Proof that this works is in your post. You evidently do not view your water bill as an additional tax. It is. It is no different than the food tax, gasoline tax and so on.

  • Nobody but Carolina Oct 19, 2007

    Typo, meant infrastructure.

  • Nobody but Carolina Oct 19, 2007

    While taxes may have helped fund the unfrastructure to provide water, what is being paid by your water bill is the "cost" of actually cleaning the water.

  • HEYGwenCOG Oct 19, 2007

    I don't want hotels restricted on how often they can change linen. I want to know that I am sleeping on freshly washed sheets when I check into a hotel room. It's bad enough that the bedspreads are not washed after each person checks out. I wash the sheets after a houseguest leaves my home even though I know the person showered daily. I would never think of asking my next guest to sleep in unwashed sheets, water shortage or not.


  • chatamite Oct 18, 2007

    The A in OWASA means Authority. They are not a Utility and have their own board. They have no competition and since their income is dropping and going to drop more with less use, they must make up for the lost income. Unfortunately, they can do so without anyone having any say so. The water lines etc. are theirs to control.

  • Tax Man Oct 18, 2007

    Also, let anyone within the city limits drill their own wells to use for their landscape - most cities/towns prohibit this where the water is provided by the city/town - guess they don't want you getting it on your own without paying them.

  • Tax Man Oct 18, 2007

    It is the responsibility of the water company to provide the water at a competitive rate. When there is less water available, the water company (public or private) should be legally required to obtain it elsewhere to keep the constant flow of water to the residential and business customers. Rate increases should only be permitted if the cost of water increases in the entire industry. The burden should be on the business who contracts to provide you water. This drought is nothing new to NC - the water companies need to store more water during the good times to cover the bad times - not gouge the customers! It's a business and the business owner must assume all risks of their business model. Rate increases should be planned out and open to negotiation with the customers. Bad planning on the water companies part should not translate to punishing the water users. Do like they do in California - have multiple sources for your water - perhaps as far away as Nova Scotia.

  • whatelseisnew Oct 18, 2007

    Things like this just stun me; taxpayer money pays for the facilities that provide the water. Insult to injury is that you pay for something through water bills that you already paid for through taxes. Next along comes a drought and the response you get is - hey quit uses the water or we raise your bill. I am so glad I have a well and do not have to tolerate this nonsense. Not that it is likely to happen, but any city that is threatening its people with rate increase, the voters need to toss the elected officials and then demand that water bills go the way of the dinosaurs. Think about you are being threatened. Sure is liberal government at its' best.

  • Run_Forrest_Run Oct 18, 2007

    Title says it all....

    water rates to go up.