Water rate structure is unfair
The Aug. 23 Press article titled "Water and sewer rates to climb next billing cycle" begs an overdue discussion about our water rate structure.
As a water efficiency consultant, I have prepared comprehensive water audits that include a scrutinization and understanding of the water rates for various municipalities and private water utility companies. All the water rates I've examined share one common aspect: a flat monthly administrative charge that may or may not vary based on water main (water meter) size. I have never seen a rate structure that charges a flat amount for the first minimum number of gallons of water, and it is this part of Jamestown's water rate structure that is patently unfair and needs to be changed.
For my two-person household that consumes between 1,000 and 2,000 gallons of water quarterly (maximum was 4,000 gallons one quarter), I am currently charged $45.92 per quarter (to increase to $52.75 with the next billing cycle) whether I use one gallon or 5,000 gallons per quarter. I'm sure there are other customers like me who are not large enough or who conserve enough to use less than the 5,000 gallon "minimum in advance" per quarter. What this flat charge for the first 5,000 gallons amounts to is a type of rate subsidy for the 5,000+ gallon consumers.
Regardless of the required revenue to operate our water system, the only equitable rate structure is one that charges a flat administrative charge for the meter to cover fixed monthly administrative costs (similar to National Grid's flat "customer charge") and a usage charge for actual consumption. Under this structure, customers are only charged for what they use.
I call on the Water and Sewer Commission to revise the existing unfair rate structure to one that is based on actual consumption from the first gallon consumed.