IW water rates up again

Published 11:46 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

County’s rate well above towns

By Ryan Kushner

Staff writer

Isle of Wight County’s water rates went up by another 5 percent this past month.

Many county residents likely saw additional increases in their bills as well, due in part to new residential water meters in the county.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The county had originally planned for a roughly 9.5 percent increase to its water rate this year, but staff requested lowering it to 5 percent during the budgeting process due to the implementation of new, more accurate residential water meters, according to Director of Utility Services Donald Jennings.

The 5 percent increase will bring the rate from $9.68 per 1,000 gallons to $10.16 per every 1,000 gallons. Usage of over 50,000 gallons per month will increase from $8.54 to $8.96. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

By comparison, the town of Smithfield charges $5.68 per 1,000 gallons used, and the town of Windsor charges $7 per 1,000 gallons with a minimum bill of $24.50.

The old meters were failing to accurately record the total water usage of residents, according to Jennings. The new meters will fix that problem, and most customers will record more water usage than before.

“Most of our customers will see relatively higher bills this year due to the more accurate metering that is now in place,” Jennings said in an email.

The county estimated that the resulting usage increase recorded by the new water meters, coupled with only a 5 percent water rate increase, would generate roughly the same as a 9.5 percent water rate increase would have using the county’s old meters.

The annual jumps in the county’s water rate are part of a continuing effort for the county to move its Utility Division toward a revenue-neutral position, according Jennings.

“In order to increase revenue to the utility fund without significant growth in our customer base, rate increases are going to be required in the foreseeable future,” Jennings said in an email.

The county’s general fund currently heavily subsidizes the county’s Utility Division, which, as an enterprise fund, should be self-sustaining, according to Jennings.

County water rates climbed 7.15 percent in 2015 and 9.5 percent in 2016. The average customer uses 6,000 gallons a month, according to Jennings. In 2009, the average water bill in Isle of Wight was $41.25 per month. This year, the average water bill is $76.76 per month.

The 5 percent increase went into effect for county residents on July 1, according to Jennings, as it was the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Isle of Wight and the city of Suffolk continue to have some of the highest water bills in the region, with Suffolk also increasing its rate this year by 1.8 percent, from $9.03 to $9.20 per 100 cubic feet (equivalent to 748 gallons), according to its website.
            Newport News Waterworks, a regional water provider that serves customers in Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, York County and part of James City County charges $3.21 for the first four 100 cubic feet, or 2,992 gallons, and $3.69 per four to 50 CCF used, with a rate of $7.38 for any amount over 50 CCF (37,400 gallons), according to its website.
            The city of Virginia Beach charges $4.41 per 1,000 gallons, according to its website.  {/mprestriction}