The Spalding County Water and Sewerage Facilities Authority voted Wednesday to raise the rate 42 cents per 1,000 gallons used, which is the same amount of the increase in the Water Authority’s wholesale water rate from the City of Griffin.
The cost per thousand gallons of water from the city went up 42 cents to $6.51 for the Water Authority. The Water Authority is passing on the cost, at the 42 cent increase not the 6.8 percent increase to its customers, explained County Manager William Wilson Jr.
If increased by percentage, Wilson said the increase would be higher and push the highest rate to more than $10 per thousand gallons for those who use more than 10,000 gallons a month. Wilson said the average customer uses around 7,000 gallons a month, and the average bill would go up in February $2.94.
The conservation rates, per thousand gallons used, will take effect with the February bill increase:
• From $6.64 to $7.06 for those who use from zero to 7,000 gallons;
• From $8.30 to $8.83 for those who use from 7,001 to 10,000 gallons; and
• From $9.10 to $9.67 for those who use more than 10,000 gallons a month.
Water Authority member Fannie Delaney asked if it was possible to not raise the rates or by not as much. Water Authority Chairman Dave Lamb said the increase was too much for the Authority to absorb.
These rates are based on the current contract signed in 1995 between the city and Water Authority. They will start negotiations on a new contract in January. Delaney asked to make sure for the coming year the rates change with the negotiations, which Wilson and Lamb said would likely bring lower rates in the future.
Prior to the vote the Water Authority heard from Griffin Public Works Director Brant Keller to explain the reasons for the rate increase. Keller said, as a county water customer, “I don’t like my water rate going up, but I understand why.”
He explained the increased supply costs getting water from Still Branch Reservoir and the Flint River instead of from the Heads Creek Reservoir because of the drought and silting of Heads Creek.
“We’re having to pump the water twice,” he explained, “out of the Flint to Heads Creek and then pump it to Harry Simmons (treatment plant).
There’s also the planned increase in capacity at Still Branch to 18 million gallons a day and dredging at Heads Creek, Keller said there’s also increased meter costs for replacement of the meters with automatic read meters.
He said it will eventually lower the costs for meter reading, but the new meters cost much more than the old ones. He said there is a cost benefit as the new meters are much more accurate on usage.
There are also increased regulations coming down from the state and federal governments and the potential, he said, especially with the results of the election, with even more stringent and costly requirements. If requirements to test and eliminate more pollutants, primarily pharmaceuticals, out of the water are increased, requiring more expensive treatment including reverse osmosis or membrane filtering, Keller said costs will continue to go up.