The Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority is considering the adoption of new rates to encourage greater water conservation among its residential customers.
The majority of NCWSA's approximately 23,000 water customers, who have already taken actions to conserve their water usage, would not see an increase in their monthly water bills if the new rate structure does go into effect said NCWSA Executive Director Mike Hopkins.
According to Hopkins, the majority of the authority's customers use 3,000 gallons of water or less on a monthly basis. A household of four uses on average 6,000 gallons a month he said.
Currently the minimum rate for NCWSA customers using 0-3,000 gallons of water a month is $15. For every additional 1,000 gallons used, $5 is tacked on to the minimum rate.
While the proposed rates are not yet available to the public, Hopkins said the new rates would be set up in a tiered structure that would charge pre-set levels based on the amount of water used each month. Those who fall into the highest category of water usage would pay more under the proposed rate structure.
"The new rate would be designed to encourage the highest users to look for ways to conserve," Hopkins said.
If approved by the NCWSA's board of directors, the new rates could be implemented this spring. Hopkins said the timing of the introduction of the new rates was aimed at giving customers enough time to adjust their consumption levels before the typically high-water usage summer months begin.
Hopkins said mailings on the new water rates could go out at the end of the month if the board approves the rates.
"Despite the winter rains we are still at historically low water levels around the region just as we are entering the growing season," Hopkins said. "Conservation rate structures are being adopted all across North Georgia, and our board felt it was important to consider one suited to the unique needs of Newton County."
Industries and commercial businesses will not be included in the new conservation rates Hopkins said.
Hopkins said NCWSA was not considering the new rate structure as a way to increase the Authority's revenue but as a way to encourage greater water conservation.
"We're not looking at any increase [in revenue] to be honest," Hopkins said, "If we sell less water, we get less money."
If there is any increased revenue from the conservation rates, Hopkins said the additional revenue would be used in NCWSA's 15-year $115 million capital improvement plan.