City to hold public hearing on water rates
Platt said the proposed increases will be crucial to bring about much needed changes to the city’s aging water infrastructure. Platt has said in the past that a complete replacement of the system would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $40 million. His calculations said the revenue from the rate increase would be about $338,000 annually, which he said would be able to establish enough of a cash base for the public works department to start making major changes.
Breaking it down
Platt and Assistant Engineer Dan Newton went into the details of how the city measures water consumption.
The amount of water consumers use is generally measured in cubic feet. The average water user in the city can consume anywhere between 300 to 4,000 cubic feet per month. Depending on the time of year, that usage can fluctuate up or down. The first 300 cubic feet will now be included in the base rate, which is proposed to go up from $18.20 to $23.65 a month. This means that even if a person were to use less than 300 cubic feet of water in month, (which he said is a very low amount of water, even for the lowest water users) that person would still pay at least $23.65
Platt showed a side-by-side comparison of the old rates with the new rates and their effect on an older, three-bedroom house with a yard in Susanville. The house used the least amount of water during January of last year, at about 400 cubic feet. This amounted to a total water cost of $21.82. Under the new rates, that cost would go up to about $24.90, a $3.08 increase.
The peak water consumption month for the same house was July, with the house using 4,100 cubic feet of water. Last year that house would have paid a total of $60.93, but under the proposed increase, the residents would have to pay $74.21, a difference of $13.28.
The difference becomes larger in the cases of commercial businesses. He provided an example of a business in town (he wouldn’t specify the name of the business) which last year paid a total of $560.25 during the month of July for using 42,700 cubic feet of water. Under the new rates, it would pay $729.28, a difference of $169.03 from the previous year.
“The plan is designed to reward lower water usage, and adjust accordingly when people want to use more,” Platt said.
Platt mentioned the first thing planned for the money generated by the increase would include a complete replacement of the water meter system in the county, which he said had some meters dating back as far as the 1950s. After that, the next phase would include the department beginning to replace some of the 55 miles of mainline pipe spread throughout the city.
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