By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Frederick County residents can expect to pay more for water and sewer to offset the local cost of stricter protections for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
The Frederick County Sanitation Authority plans to hold a public hearing on proposed water and sewer rates at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the agency office, 315 Tasker Road, Stephens City.
Higher costs to treat water and transport wastewater prompt the need to raise rates, according to authority Director Uwe Weindel.
However, the rising costs of providing the utilities comes as a result of stricter rules protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Weindel said Monday.
The authority currently charges a minimum of $21.38 for the first 2,000 gallons of water and $27.85 for sewer in a two-month period at a standard home meter. Customers pay $3.69 per 1,000 gallons of water and $4.42 for sewer in excess of the minimum.
The authority proposes to raise the base rate for water by 15 percent and sewer by 20 percent -- $24.58 and $33.42 respectively.
If approved, customers would see their annual base water bills rise increase from $128.28 to $147.48. According to information provided on the authority's website, the agency proposes to increase the levy to $3.94 per 1,000 gallons of water used over the minimum. The authority proposed increasing the sewer consumption rate to $4.72 per 1,000 gallons in excess of the minimum.
Rates, if approved, would impact bills created after July 1.
As Weindel explained the authority board ultimately decides on the rate that tales effect July 1. The board can set a rate below but not the advertised levy. The authority actually charges for a two-month period or 2,000 gallons of use. The authority charges a consumption rate for water use that exceeds the 2,000
The county sanitation authority sets its rates based on the levies approved by the Frederick County-Winchester Service Authority.
"We have to take that into account when we do our calculations because we have to take account of the transportation of the waste," Weindel said.
The sanitation authority must treat water and maintain it at a certain quality, Weindel explained, before sending it out customers.
But some localities that provide water and sewer set their rates based on the revenue needed to fund the operations and, should customers use less water than expected, the authority may need to raise the levies to make up for the loss, Weindel said.
"Those fixed costs have to be maintained," Weindel said. "We are not in that position."
Weindel noted that the authority saw rates stay unchanged in the early 2000s but the levies eventually began to increase.