FAQ – 2018 Rate Increase

Frequently asked questions about WVWA’s 2018 Rate Increase.

 

Why are West View Water Authority’s water rates increasing?

West View Water Authority is undertaking several new projects that are essential in order to meet our commitment to public health and to maintain a high level of reliability.  They include $8.8 million in water main/service line replacement, $3.8 million for the Neville Island Treatment Plant, and $4.1 million for tank maintenance.  As is the case for all water utilities, regulatory requirements and other factors have caused our operating costs to go up.

 

How much is the increase?

The cost of water will increase to $6.98 per 1,000 gallons, which does not include the meter charge.   For a typical residential customer, using 5,000 gallons of water per month, the current bill totaling $34.68 per month will increase by $10.65.

 

Why is the increase so large?

The Authority’s rates were in the lower third of water providers in the region, and the water authority’s board felt that undertaking these improvements now rather than later would ultimately keep rates lower than they would have been over the long term.  Although the increase is sizeable, WVWA’s rates will still be less than about a third of other utilities in the region.  Several of the utilities whose rates are lower than ours at present will leapfrog West View Water Authority in the coming months and years as they replace lines and make similar system upgrades.

 

Did you consider phasing in these investments more slowly to avoid such a large increase?

Yes.  The decision to move forward with these projects now was driven by several factors.  First, the projects we are undertaking are essential in order to meet our commitment to public health and to maintain a high level of reliability.  Second, our rates have been lower than those of many other water providers and will continue to be lower even after the increase.  Finally, while making these improvements more slowly would have made the increases more gradual, it ultimately would have increased the overall cost, resulting in higher rates.  We concluded that because our rates are still relatively low, starting these projects now will ultimately be in the best interest of our customers.

 

Will rates continue to increase, and if so, by how much?

We undertake a cost-of-service study every few years.  It’s impossible to predict what the cost factors will be in the future.  Our last increase was three years ago.  Because we are a publicly owned utility, we do not increase our rates until an independent cost-of-service study shows it is necessary.

 

Who conducted this cost study?

Shambaugh Utility Consulting, an independent professional rate consultant.  It identified the costs we incur in providing service, and it calculated what our rates need to be to cover those costs.  The study is available to anyone who would like to read it.

 

Have you taken any steps to keep your costs down?

Yes.  Our tank maintenance program is one example.  Over the next 15 years, we are taking each tank out of service, one at a time, to thoroughly refurbish them.  This will extend their useful lives and allow us to avoid the expense of replacing them for a longer period, to the benefit of our customers.  In addition to helping to control costs, the program will help ensure consistent chemistry and high water quality within the system.

In another cost-saving initiative, we are focusing on preventing water main breaks.  We have invested in equipment that alerts us to conditions that could lead to the possibility of breaks.  Addressing such instances before a break occurs is significantly less costly than the cost of a break.

In the last two years, West View Water Authority has secured grants totaling more than $1.3 million that have helped defray costs of water line extensions, intake facility improvements and a road extension project.

Finally, we have taken steps to manage employee health care costs, and we will continue to look for ways to control costs and improve operational efficiencies.

 

What can I do to reduce water consumption?

Fix leaks, use low-flow faucets and toilets – there are all kinds of relatively inexpensive ways to use less water.  You can Google “how to reduce water consumption” to find many tips and ideas.   Some helpful hints are also listed on our site.  Click below to review them.

Water Conservation Helpful Hints

 

Why did you change to monthly billing?

Most other utilities bill monthly.  It makes a great deal of sense for water utilities, because customers can become aware of leaks and have them repaired quickly, saving money on wasted consumption.  It also helps customers manage bills, especially those on fixed incomes.  And our online payment options provide a convenient way to pay, and to avoid postage costs.

 

Who is West View Water Authority accountable to?

West View Water Authority is a publicly owned, nonprofit entity, and our primary obligation is to our customers and the community.  Our board of directors is made up of members of the community.

 

 

For more information or to answer questions you may still have regarding this rate increase, please call West View Water Authority at 412-931-3500 during normal business hours.