Local News

Tiered rates in effect for Durham water customers

Posted July 1, 2008

— Durham water customers can expect their use to be reflected in their bills by the end of the summer.

Beginning Tuesday, the city will begin using tiered rates, in which customers who consume more water pay a higher price per unit (100 cubic feet, or about 748 gallons) than those that use less.

Monthly customers will see the change on the bills delivered in August; bi-monthly customers will see the change on their September bills.

According to the city, most residential customers will fall in the Tier 3 range, using about sixteen units, at $1.98 per unit, over a two-month billing period.

Those who conserve water will pay the lowest rate, $1.72 per unit. The city has provided a calculator to estimate water costs, and suggestions for cutting back on water use on its Web site.


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  • oldschooltarheel Jul 8, 2008

    so what is Duke's rate for watering those synthetic Lacrosse & hockey fields compared to the residential rate where no water is to be "wasted" in yard maintenance? Really what is their rate using the same increment of measurement? waiting...waiting....

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Jul 2, 2008

    In concept, I agree that people who use more water should pay more than the people who conserve. However, I think it would be better to give tax credit to people who actively use rain barrels, have a cistern for irrigation, and implement other conservation methods instead of this tiered rate system.

    Plus, businesses and homeowners associations with irrigation systems should pay more than residents, but I believe that has already been established per the higher rates I believe they should be paying for water. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

  • DougWare.NET Jul 1, 2008

    whatelseisnew, thewayitis...

    If you are Durham residents like me, remember November is right around the corner. Let your vote do your talking!

  • DougWare.NET Jul 1, 2008


    This isn't getting us ready for the next drought. Expanding capacity would be getting us ready for the next drought. It's not my fault as a Durham resident that Durham isn't planning ahead. We haven't had a refinery built in this country in over 30 years, and we are running at over 90% of refining capacity. God forbid that one refinery explodes or goes out of commission for any reason, we won't be able to keep up. It's the same with Durham's water supply.

    Secondly, if Durham's rates are too low...then let them raise them. I wasn't asking for the rates to get cheaper the more you use either. They already have different rates for businesses and residential users right? My problem is that it's not the government's job to "incentivize conservation". If you could spark competition in the "water market", I imagine that these "capacity problems" would go away. Free markets seem to get things done, governments just get people to do things.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 1, 2008

    Ah yes never mind that you already pay property taxes which ought to be sufficient to get a basic service like water. I am always amazed at how people accept being ripped off by Government, and even applaud the fact that they are being scammed.

  • thewayitis Jul 1, 2008

    Ya know, I don't mind the tiered rates so much, but I wish they'd lift the restrictions, or at least find a way to make them more fair. For example, my neighbors can water their lawns twice a week, but I can't wash my camper EVER. We don't water our lawns, we don't even wash our cars, but our camper needs to be washed once a year for maintenance. Just once, that's all. But no-o-o, I can't wash it in Durham..I guess I'll have to take it to my mom's and wash it there. And forget the kids ever playing in an inflatable kiddie pool. Yep, the neighbors can run through the sprinkler while their lawn is being watered, but my little guys can't even play in a blow-up kiddie pool...Makes a lot of sense. My little kiddie pool would use a lot less water than it would take to water a lawn.

  • Durham-Raleigh Jul 1, 2008

    Doug: The issue is, the city's reservoirs are designed to hold only so much water based on their sustainable capacity (not to mention treatment plant capacity.) Durham's water rates were previously among the lowest in the state, and customers had no incentive to conserve.

    Which is why even during the drought last summer, water use was soaring as folks tried to keep their yards alive. Hey, water's cheap, right?

    So the tiered rates serve two functions:

    1) Incentivize conservation (since the needed behavior is exactly the opposite of that which high-volume discounts would incent)

    2) Provide extra revenue to support water/SWM bonds needed to add a second Jordan Lake intake, build the Teer Quarry reservoir, and expand the Lake Michie/Little River reservoirs. Those facilities are needed to mitigate future droughts and to meet growth demands.

    I'm glad to see Durham's leaders doing something to get us ready for the next drought.

  • DougWare.NET Jul 1, 2008

    Can anyone give me another example of a pricing structure like this?

    In a fair market economy, you either pay a flat price or less the more you get. Example: 1 donut = $1, 12 donuts is a LOT less than $12...

    When you factor in that the city has a monopoly on water, it just doesn't make sense to me...

  • DurhamDude Jul 1, 2008

    I'm glad to see Durham is doing this. I'm impressed it's actually a 5 tier rate structure.