The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Utility Commission today approved a 5 percent increase in water rates and a 9 percent increase in sewer rates, effective October 1. In
addition, the commission announced a new rate structure, effective July 1 that encourages water conservation.
The current water rate for households in Winston-Salem starts at $1.84 for every 100
cubic feet, and customers pay a minimum charge no matter how little water they use, said Utilities Director David Saunders. The new rate structure will result in a 29 percent decrease as of July 1 in the amount that all customers pay for the first 600 cubic feet (4,488 gallons) of water during each billing period. “This new rate structure will recognize and reward individual and business conservation efforts,” Saunders said.
The new rate structure has five tiers of rates:
Water Rates (Inside City Rate)
Bimonthly July 1, 2009 October 1, 2009
Tier 1 (0 - 600 Cubic Feet) …… $1.300/ 100 Cubic Feet $1.365/ 100 Cubic Feet
Tier 2 (601 – 1,200 Cubic Feet)…… 1.900/ 100 Cubic Feet 1.995/ 100 Cubic Feet
Tier 3 (1,201 – 1,800 Cubic Feet)…… 1.933/ 100 Cubic Feet 2.030/ 100 Cubic Feet
Tier 4 (1,801 - 40,000 Cubic Feet)... 2.150/ 100 Cubic Feet 2.258/ 100 Cubic Feet
Tier 5* (for industries using more than 40,000 cubic feet).. 1.200/ 100 Cubic Feet 1.260/ 100 Cubic Feet
*For all irrigation customers, there is no discount on Tier 5. Tier 5 shall be $2.150 effective July 1, 2009 and $2.258 effective October 1, 2009. **100 Cubic feet of water equals 748 gallons
The sewer rate for households in Winston-Salem will be $1.91 per 100 cubic feet, regardless of volume.
When the rate increase takes effect Oct. 1, the bimonthly water and sewer bill for the average household in Winston-Salem would be $66.01, an increase of 14 cents a day.
Despite the increase, Saunders noted that Winston-Salem will continue to have some of
the lowest water and sewer rates in the Southeast, and the lowest among North Carolina’s largest cities. Currently the estimated average bimonthly water and sewer bill is $90.83 in Greensboro, $86.78 in Raleigh, $91.92 in Charlotte, and $95.61 in Durham.
“Given this current economic environment, we have cut departmental expenses and reduced our costs so our customers receive the lowest rate increase possible,” Saunders said, “and our new increasing tier rate structure gives them the ability to directly affect their bills by using conservation methods.”
The rate increase will help pay for necessary updates and maintenance of the Utility
Commission’s treatment and distribution systems. The commission is rebuilding the R. A. Thomas Water Treatment Plant at a cost of $55 million and is in the midst of $52 million worth of improvements to the Archie Elledge Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The commission is also facing the need to replace aging portions of the Neilson water plant and replace aging water and sewer lines in the city’s older neighborhoods.
The Utility Commission also approved a new charge for restaurants and other commercial kitchens to more equitably recover the cost of complying with new state standards for grease generated by food-service establishments, and approved an increase in certain industrial waste charges to more equitably recover the cost of complying with new state standards regarding high levels of industrial waste. These charges will take effect Jan. 1, 2010.
The rate increases and surcharges are contained in the $67.9 million operating budget the commission approved for fiscal year 2009-2010. The budget includes $40.8 million for operating costs and $27.1 million debt service for revenue bonds.
The water and sewer system operated by the Utility Commission continues to be one of the most economical systems in North Carolina, based on its bond ratings, operating record, rate structure, and supply of raw water.