By: Robin Ford Wallacer, Reporter
The Dade Water
Authority board of directors met briefly on Friday with little on the agenda,
but Authority head Doug Anderton and office manager Sherri Walker lingered
after the meeting to clarify for the Sentinel coming rate structure changes at
the water company.
explained that with expenses up and the need for additional revenues evident,
the board decided not to raise rates as such but rather to lower the maximum
gallons covered by the base monthly fee.
structure for water is geared toward conservation as opposed to “buying in
bulk,” so that residential customers are rewarded for using less water, not
more. Currently, customers get the first 3,000 gallons of water for a base
monthly rate, then pay an extra per-thousand-gallon-price for additional
water. After Dec. 1, they’ll get only
2,000 gallons for that base monthly charge, paying the additional
per-thousand-gallon rate for anything over that.
the change is designed not just to further conservation but to avoid
distressing the most vulnerable customers. “Going to the 2,000 minimum instead
of having just a general rate increase all across the county is because the
elderly, fixed-income people generally use less than 2,000 gallons,” he said.
“Their rate will not change at all.”
How much will
customers’ bills go up as a result of the change? First of all, Anderton
explained that base rates vary depending on where a customer lives. “There’s
three different rates for areas, depending on how many times the water’s
pumped,” he said. “If the water is pumped a second time – and it is, to both
mountains – then that minimum is a little higher than in the valley, which is a
little higher than it is in the city.”
rates are: in the city, $13.45 for the
first 3,000 gallons, $4.60 per thousand gallons thereafter; in the valley,
$14.40 for the first 3,000 gallons, $4.70 per thousand gallons thereafter; and
on the mountains, $15.65 for the first 3,000 gallons, $4.85 per thousand
separate rates for three more districts that require additional pumping; Routes
29, 10 and 21 customers pay $16.90 for the first 3,000, $5 per thousand
thereafter; Canyon Ridge, $18.15 and $5.15; Flintstone subdivision, $17.85 and
As of Dec. 1,
the 3,000 minimum changes to 2,000, with the additional charge charged for
additional gallons. Here’s an example
Sherri Walker provided:
“Jane Doe uses
5,000 gallons a month and lives on the mountain. At the old rate structure,
Jane paid a minimum of $15.65 for the first 3,000 gallons and $4.85 for each
1,000 gallons above the minimum. Her total bill was $25.35.
“Under the new
structure with the same usage, Jane will pay a minimum of $15.65 for the first
2,000 gallons and $4.85 for each 1,000 above the minimum. Her total bill will
now be $30.20.”
also inquired about another water-related issue: A request by Egypt Hollow
residents to extend city water into their neck of the woods.
“It’s in Tennessee’s
lap,” said Ted Rumley, who as Dade County Commission executive chairman also
chairs the water board. “We told them what we would do as far as the tap, that
we would work with them any way we can. They’re doing the research.”
lies on the state border, with only a handful of houses on the Georgia side but
30 to 40 in Marion County across the Tennessee line. Doug Anderton said that
currently Tennessee-side water officials are surveying door to door preparatory
to applying for a federal block grant to provide the houses public water in a
cooperation between the Dade and Marion County water authorities.
that the grant has an income limitation – 70 percent of the households must be
of moderate-to-low income – but that the neighborhood should have no problem
meeting that requirement.
“I think the
issue may be will everybody sign up,” he said. “If they get the required
signatures that they’ll take water, they’ll proceed with the grant. It doesn’t
mean that they’ll get it, they’ll just proceed with the application. They’ll
become grant-eligible, so to speak.”
will continue reporting on this issue as details emerge.