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Flush with water, Raleigh could soon raise rates again

Posted April 12, 2010

— The municipal water system could raise rates for the second time in a year to make up for declining water consumption, an official said Monday.

Water rates for customers in Raleigh and the six Wake County towns that use the city's water system went up 17 percent last year, and Ed Buchan, environmental coordinator for Raleigh's Public Utilities Department, said rates might have to go up again to help pay for a new water treatment plant that will come on line next week.

Raleigh water treatment plant Raleigh needs revenue for new water plant

Since the record-setting drought that gripped North Carolina in late 2007 and early 2008, local water consumption has dropped, Buchan said. Last year, usage was down 7 percent from 2007 levels, he said, and the water level in Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, is now about a foot above a full pool.

The Public Utilities Department is funded primarily by water and sewer usage fees, so when consumption drops, revenue dries up.

"When you have it, you want people to use it, as long as they use it efficiently, so we can meet the revenue goals," Buchan said.

Year-round water restrictions adopted by the City Council have kept a lid on consumption.

People with odd-numbered street addresses can water their yards on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, while those with even-numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Violators receive one warning before $50 and $200 fines are imposed for second and third offenses. A fourth violation will result in a homeowner's water being shut off.

Dick and Nancy Petty said they track rainfall at their house and cut back on water usage even more during dry conditions.

"We don't want to run out of drinking water, for one thing. It's just something that we've been on top of for a long time," Dick Petty said.

"I know that Falls Lake is great right now, but by June, who knows," Nancy Petty said.

Dick Petty said he doesn't like the idea of paying more for water because he is acting responsibly by conserving.

"Here you are trying to conserve on one hand, and they are raising your rates on the other," he said.

City officials considered delaying the opening of the new water treatment plant, Buchan said, but they decided to proceed to ensure the plant was operating properly before the city's one-year warranty on the construction expired.

"As we always say, we'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it," he said.

In July, the city will implement tiered water rates to begin charging people based on their usage. The City Council adopted tiered water rates two years ago, but a billing system to handle the new rate structure needed to be installed and tested.


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  • ifcdirector Apr 14, 2010

    People would vote for Meeker and liberals even if they came and burned down their homes. They are insane.

  • Johnny Da Lounge Apr 14, 2010

    So.....CONSERVE! CONSERVE! Water limits! Since you conserve, and limits have been set, you use less. Now pay the consequenses? Governments do not care about your inablility to make ends meet! Keep it up. Americans are getting Frustrated and angry. Revoulution will come.

  • me2you Apr 14, 2010

    Are they kidding!!!!!!

  • TarHeel4Real Apr 14, 2010

    Start charging impact fees or stop handing out building permits like they are candy.

  • dwntwnboy Apr 14, 2010

    They want to raise rates but keep restrictions in place that limit the amount of water used- by whom and on what days. If they wanted to make more money- don't raise rates, let us water what and when we want since the lake is 1 foot OVER full.

  • sunneyone Apr 14, 2010

    This was posted Monday, but they met to vote on this on April 6?! Way to sneak it in City Council.

  • mep Apr 14, 2010

    Use less, the city loses money so they have to charge more for the product! Lets hope the gasoline, natural gas, and electric companies dont learn about this magic numbers trick. Geeze!

  • gov watchdog Apr 14, 2010

    Hmmm, so they want to raise the rates. My guess is that people will then start using even less water which will then result in raising the rates again which will result in people using less water which will result ..... I guess I better invest in water.

  • rescuefan Apr 14, 2010

    I am going to move somewhere where I am on a well and septic. It is ridiculous, I am paying $100 every two months for water and they want to raise my rates even more. When I moved into the city in 1998, my water bill was $34 every two months. So in twelve years they have enacted enormous increases, including the wastewater fee they tacked on a few years back.

  • lkanzig Apr 13, 2010

    we have no water,so save water they say. Then you save water they "they" say we have to raise rates because we are not making enough money. It must be nice being able to do whatever you want!

    If it was a public sector business- we would just go to another vendor...

    i agree! they want the money no matter what! these waste of space politicians need to get their heads out of their dark side of the moon and come to terms with the real world!