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Raleigh Leaders Consider Tiered Water Plan

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RALEIGH, N.C. — How can Raleigh get its water customers to conserve for the long term? Mayor Charles Meeker said changing people's actions may have to hit them in their wallets.

"When we get into a drought situation and encouraging people to conserve, shouldn't the rates encourage them as well?" he said.

The idea he is asking a water conservation task force to consider is one many cities and towns across the country are already doing.

The average household uses about 6,000 to 8,000 gallons of water a month. If you use more than that, you would have to pay a higher rate. It could be enforced year-round or just utilized in peak months when lawn irrigation is high.

The idea is not a popular choice for Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen. He favors educating people about the need to use less water instead of charging more. That way, higher and lower income families are not penalized for using more than an average amount.

"A family that has more children might use much more than that as part of their normal family usage but get into this premium rate," he said.

The tiered water plan is one of several ideas being considered. A final decision would be up to Raleigh City Council.

The town of Cary already uses tiered water rates. They have been in place for seven years. The rates range from just over $3 to more than $10, depending on water consumption.

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