Richmond water bill could go up, down in mayor's proposed rate change

Published: Mar. 23, 2018 at 7:10 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2018 at 7:15 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you live in Richmond, your water rate may soon be based on how much you use. Mayor Levar Stoney proposed a rate decrease- or increase- depending on the amount you run the faucet, in his 2019 budget proposal, earlier this month. Those who use less water, will pay a lower rate; those who use more, will pay a higher rate.

A Richmond family living in a single home uses an average of just under 4,500 gallons of water per month, according to the Richmond Public Utilities Department. Under the proposed rate change, residents will save money if they use this average amount, or less.

The current water rate for single family homes is $4.04 per hundred cubic feet of water (CCF), or every 748 gallons. Stoney's plan would charge less, $2.58, for the first four CCF of water used. Beyond that, a customer would pay $5.11 per CCF.

A Richmond family using the city average of six CCF of water per month would see a decrease on their bill of $3.70. But once you reach 10 CCF of water or more (i.e. you have more people under your roof, you irrigate, wash your car often, etc.), your bill would be higher than what it is now with the current rate.

"This is a rate that's more equitable, so now a great number of residents will pay less in water than they have in many, many, many years," said Mayor Stoney in early March, after he proposed his budget for 2019. "Those who use more water will pay their fair share."

"If I have a family of six, which I have had in the past, and it went up, I guess I would bite the bullet and say, 'That's the way it is,'" said Bob Spears, who owns a home in Richmond, and has lived in the city for 40 years.

Public Utilities administrators say they need more money to keep the aging infrastructure working. The rate change is also to encourage water conservation.

"I think that conserving water might be a good thing, and this might be a way to motivate people to use less water," said resident Billie Jean Pearson.

The rate change and the city's entire budget must ultimately be approved by the City Council, in May.

"I think people are mostly asking a lot of questions," said Councilmember Kristen Larson, who said she's received inquiries about the rate change.

The mayor has also proposed a 3.25 percent rate hike on natural gas.

Both Henrico and Chesterfield are also proposing water rate hikes, for next year.

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