By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Water rates rising in Statesboro
Average customer bill to increase $6.68 per month
Placeholder Image
      Budget problems for Statesboro continue as the city council will debate Tuesday whether or not to raise water and sewer rates and fees.
    Wayne Johnson, director of water and waste water for the city, said the extra charges partially come as a result of unfunded mandates by the State of Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division, which holds the state’s authority to issue water withdrawal and waste water discharge permits.
    “This is driven primarily by EPD,” Johnson said. “Most of the changes and increased costs we’re having to recover are due to the special conditions that EPD has put on our permit such as having to establish a water conservation rate schedule that helps to conserve water by charging people more for the more water that they use. That’s primarily to slow down the irrigation.”
    The EPD has also mandated that the city test or calibrate 10 percent of its water meters, which is approximately 1,200 meters annually. Currently, the city does 500 meters per year. EPD also requires additional water audits and feasibility studies, which increases expenses within the department.
    Increased fixed costs, such as electricity and chemicals, have also contributed to the department’s request for rate increases.
    If the measure passes, water and sewer base rates will both go up. The water base rate will rise from $4.60 per month to $6.00 while the sewer rate does the same. As a result, the base rates for city residents will go up $2.80 per month.
    Johnson said some of the changes to the fee schedule come from Georgia EPD demands that municipal water permit holders adopt and implement a conservation-oriented rate structure. As a result, city staff has come up with a four tiered structure for charging residential customers.
    Water usage rates will also go up, divided into four tiers. In Tier 1, usage under 9,000 gallons, the rate will rise from $1.94 per 1,000 gallons to $2.15. In Tier 2, usage between 10,000 and 19,000, the rate goes from $2.04 to $2.25 per 1,000. In Tier 3, a new level which runs from 20,000 to 49,000 gallons, the charge will be $2.50 per 1,000. Every 1,000 gallons over 49,000 will be charged $3.00 per thousand. All sewer rates will rise $.35 per 1,000 gallons.
    According to Johnson, 65 percent of water system users use less than 9,000 gallons per month. For these folks, they should expect a $6.68 increase in their total bill. Commercial and industrial customers should expect a 10 percent increase in rates.
    Since July 1, 2000, the city has one increase in the water and sewer rates of two percent. Johnson said that development and growth have enabled the city to keep up with inflation and fixed costs, but with the recent downturn and additional EPD requirements, the city is forced to look at a raise in rates.
    Tuesday’s council meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. in the council chambers located on the second floor of City Hall.

Sign up for the Herald's free e-newsletter