New Water Rates Go into Effect on January 1, 2022
The Plainview Water District (PWD) is in the process of investing more than $54.5 million as part of its 5-year capital plan to improve the community’s drinking water infrastructure and construct required, state-of-the-art treatment systems needed to remove emerging contaminants such as 1,4-dioxane. In order for the District to remain financially secure and perform these required tasks, additional revenues are needed to pay for these investments and the significant increased operating costs associated with them. For the average resident using 30,000 gallons of water per quarter, the new rates will result in an increase of $8.82 per quarter or $2.94 per month.
“The District has recently been in a very favorable financial position, so we have been able to hold the line on rates the past four years despite millions of dollars already spent and committed to critical infrastructure projects,” said PWD Chairman Marc Laykind. “It is the District’s duty to serve the highest quality water possible to our residents, and this rate increase is needed for us to carry out that mission. We continue to do what we can to find alternative sources of funding, whether it be from grants or litigation against the polluters and chemical manufacturers. For the time being, this is an action we must take to continue improving the drinking water we provide to our customers.”
Aside from the staggering capital costs associated with building Advanced Oxidation Process treatment facilities, which are needed to remove 1,4-dioxane, the District’s operating budget associated with running these facilities has increased significantly. The District’s electricity costs alone have increased by more than a half million dollars per year due to the significant demand for power these systems require.
“Over the past couple of years, we have done everything we can to find efficiencies in our operations and work to stretch our existing budgets as much as possible,” said PWD Commissioner Amanda Field. “Due to our awards of grant funding, financial planning and use of reserve funds, we have been able to prolong the need for this rate increase until now. We know our residents appreciate all that we are doing to improve water quality within the community, and we hope they understand the need for these minimal rate increases as a result.”
As 2021 began, the District employed the services of a third-party consultant that specializes in municipal water district rate structures. The District tasked the consultant to calculate the revenues needed while reducing the impact to residents as much as possible. As a result, the District was able to remain within the tax cap while implementing a modest increase to each of the District’s rate tiers as well as create an additional conservation tier. The two conservation rate tiers, which start for customers using more than 126,000 gallon per quarter, are aimed at incentivizing these residents to use less water, which, in turn, helps the District save on various operating expenses while also promoting water conservation.
“In terms of usage, the top three percent of customers who consume more than 130,000 a quarter will experience an estimated increase of $29, where our lower users, those using approximately 20,000 per quarter, will experience an increase of $5.72. Minimum bills are only going up $2 per quarter,” said PWD Commissioner Andrew Bader. “Implementing water conservation tactics, such as replacing your standard irrigation timer with a smart irrigation controller, is the best way for residents to offset these increases. Conserving water will reduce resident bills and also lower our operating expenses. Conservation is a win-win scenario.”