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Some water fees go up in Stafford to encourage conservation
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Date published: 6/26/2008
Water fees are going up in Stafford County next month as a way to encourage conservation in the aftermath of last summer's drought.
But the new rates will affect a minority of customers.
Those whose use more than 20,000 gallons per month will now be charged $23.55 per thousand gallons, up from $7.85.
The average Stafford resident uses 2,000 gallons per month, so a four-person household consumes about 8,000 gallons. Rates for using under 20,000 gallons a month won't change.
Last July, about 2.7 percent of households used more than 20,000 gallons in one month. This group made up 11 percent of the total residential monthly usage, placing a disproportionate burden on the water system, according to county officials.
But the fee increase could encourage those households to reduce their consumption.
A household that uses 33,000 gallons of water per month would see its monthly bill (not including sewer fees) more than double from about $209 to $413.
County officials believe automatic sprinkler systems are the cause of excessive water use.
"This type of use is well within the control of the consumer," said Dale Allen, Stafford Utility's assistant director for engineering. "It's not water they have to use, so we're hoping they would exercise some discretion in the over-watering of their lawns."
Water restrictions were lifted in March after rain helped replenish the county's two reservoirs.
But growing demands on the water system, coupled with the unpredictability of the weather, forced the increases, Allen said.
The county is building its third basin, Rocky Pen Reservoir, off U.S. 17, just west of Celebrate Virginia North.
But until the project is completed some time in 2011, "we have the potential for being tight on water supply," Allen said. "We're still in somewhat of a precarious situation, so we still need to conserve."
Irrigation meters will now be billed at the bulk water rate, which also increases, from $9.90 to $13 per thousand gallons.
The new rates go into effect Tuesday and August bills will reflect the new rates.
Kafia Hosh: 540/735-1977