County Water, Sewer Rates Go Up
Davie County water and sewer customers will begin paying higher rates starting July 1.
The new rates will be shown on the bills received in September.
“Nobody wants to see a rate increase, but we have to fund it,” said Johnny Lambert, utilities director. “We all pay these rates, too. It’s a hard choice to raise rates, but when you look at numbers like this, you have no choice.”
Rates should level off after this increase, and Davie’s rates are still comparable to area systems, he said.
The base rate for water, up to 3,000 gallons, will go from $24 to $26. Every 1,000 gallons after that will be $5, up from $4.06.
The base irrigation rate will go to $24, with a $5.50 per 1,000 gallon charge after that.
The eastern Davie sewer rate will go from $20 to $32 for the base rate, and from $8 to $11 per 1,000 gallons.
The Cooleemee sewer base rate will go from $15 to $20, then from $3.30 to $3.60 per 1,000 gallons.
Lambert said two engineering firms did rate analysis studies. Both said rates need to be increased to keep the funds solvent.
Water and sewer departments are enterprise funds, meaning no tax money is used to maintain them, although the eastern Davie sewer system had to borrow from the county because of increased rates charged by the Winston-Salem Forsyth Utility Commission.
Interim County Manager Cecil Wood said increased regulations are on the way, meaning improvements will have to be made to the aging Cooleemee plants.
Davie is in the process of getting permits to build its own sewage treatment plant in eastern Davie. Wood said that needs to be on line before 2019, when rates charged by Forsyth will likely increase dramatically.
“We’re just trying to break even,” Wood said.
The new rates will put the sewage treatment systems at a break even point, and the water rates will provide a bit of capital to improve the system, and possibly add lines. More customers mean costs are spread out further. They also help the system to operate more efficiently.
John Grey of Grey Engineering, who studied the finances of the systems, wrote:
“It is critical that the Davie water and sewer system earn sufficient revenues to fund capital improvements including: the eastern Davie wastewater treatment plant project; an emergency water connection to Davidson County to abate risk from the aging Cooleemee Water Plant; the Cooleemee Wastewater Treatment Plant upgrade for nutrient removal that will be required in 2019 permits; Cooleemee Water Treatment Plant replacement in accordance with engineering recommendations due to failing concrete structures; various line extensions and system improvements.”