Mayor proposes cheaper water bills and incentives for conservation

While presenting his proposed City budget, Mayor Jones outlined his plan for a fair water rate that encourages conservation.

Water

Mayor Dwight Jones wants residents to have an equitable water bill. The proposed budget he presented yesterday to City Council includes a 50 percent reduction in automatic utility fees and amends charges based on usage to motivate water conservation.

“Through this rate structure change, an estimated 50 percent of our residential households will see a decrease in their water and wastewater bills,” Mayor Jones said. “This action responds to the numerous voices, including mine, requesting a review of our structure and way to reduce the base charges.”

Currently, residents pay a base amount of $49.40 per month1 for both water and wastewater utilities, the highest in the region–and that’s before any added charges stemming from water use.

Mayor Jones’s plan would cut that base charge to $26.11 and amend existing water use charges to what’s known as a conservation rate structure, so that those who use more water pay more.

“Those who use low amounts of water will see marked decreases in water and wastewater bills,” Mayor Jones said to Council yesterday. “Those who use moderate amounts of water will see relatively flat water and wastewater charges. And, those who use large quantities of water will begin to pay their fair share and will need to be more creative in reducing their usage.”

Like other cities, Richmond measures water consumption through hundred cubic feet (CCF).2 According to City officials, the average Richmond household uses 7 CCF each month. Those households will see an increase in water charges under the new plan (15.5 percent).

Here’s a comparison of current and proposed water bills based on usage in CCF, according to the Mayor’s Office:

Councilman Charles Samuels (2nd District) seems pleased with the proposal.

“I think that people are going to see it as progress,” Samuels said about the proposed rates. “I hope people will find that this is an example of government listening to its constituents.”

Mayor Jones is also proposing a new Assistance Program to provide an average $150 annual rebate on water and wastewater charges for qualified, low-income households.

If the budget is approved, the changes will begin July 1st, when the new budget would go into effect.

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Footnotes

  1. According to the City: $19.68 for water, $29.72 for wastewater. 
  2. 1 ccf = 748 gallons 

photo by Sean Rogers1

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Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

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