Residents in Metro Nashville could soon see their water bills rise for the first time in almost a decade.
“The last increase we had here at Metro Water Services was in 2011,” said Sonia Allman, Strategic Communications Manager for Metro Water Services.
Fast forward eight years later, that water rate has still stayed the same.
“Our operating costs have increased 30-percent,” said Allman. “Without the proper funding, it has meant that we’ve had to really watch our capital expenses and there have been some projects that we had to postpone.”
That’s why the department is planning to propose a rate increase to Metro Council.
For residential customers, monthly bills would rise by about $3 to $15 – the greater the increase the more water you use.
“It is very, very long over due,” said Allman. “When you compare us to other large cities, we will still be among the lowest and we’ll be aligned with our regional utilities.”
But the possible rate hike leaves residents conflicted.
Betty Wallace said her water bills average at about $40.
“That’s okay – it’s when it goes to 60, 70,” said Wallace.
Diana Morris said she feels like she has no choice.
“That’s a lot, but I’m going to have to pay it because I want to live,” said Morris.
Allman said the increases will help fund much-needed infrastructure repairs and updates when it comes to water and sewer.
“When you look at the age of our system, some of our sewer lines were put in in the 1800s,” said Allman. “We have 60-percent of our water lines that are more than 40 years old.”
Allman said per an agreement with the Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and TDEC, the state must correct swewer issues from the aging infrastructure.
“At this point in time, if we don’t raise rates, the state is going to step in and require us to raise rates,” said Allman.
Tied into the proposal looks into Metro Water’s plans beyond 2020.
Beginning in 2020 to 2024, the multi-year rate increase would go into effect.
Starting in 2025, customers would begin to see a small increase each year to ensure funding.
Metro Water Services is not tax funded, so its revenues comes from its rates and fees.
There were discussions back in 2016 about a water rate increase, but it failed to get support.
Metro Water plans to present the new rate structure to Metro Council on November 5th.
If it passes, the increases will go into effect January 1, 2020 and customers will see it on their February bill.
For more information about the proposal, visit: https://www.nashville.gov/Water-Services/Proposed-Rate-Increases.aspx (the monthly bill calculator is in the right-hand column of the page)