Most District residents will see their water bills surge by nearly $70 a year beginning in October as D.C. Water implements a pair of rate hikes and a big increase to an existing surcharge.
Under the new rates, the cost of water would increase by 24 cents for every 1,000 gallons consumed. D.C. Water says consumers typically use just more than 5,000 gallons of water a month.
The price for sewer service, which is measured based on water consumption, is set to climb by 30 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water used. Several other fees will climb by mere pennies per month.
|With increases to water and sewer rates and various fees taking effect in October, the average water bill for a D.C. family will go up $5.73 a month.|
But the major hit to pocketbooks will come from a 44 percent hike on a surcharge D.C. Water is using to help pay for a 13-mile, $2.6 billion tunnel that will run from Northeast Washington to D.C. Water's Blue Plains treatment facility.
The surcharge, formally known as the impervious area charge, will jump from $6.64 per equivalent residential unit to $9.57.
The fee is based on how much of a property's surface can't be penetrated by water. Surfaces that are included in the calculation include roofs, driveways and patios.
"Economic development has increased the amount of surface areas -- rooftops, roadways and parking lots -- that do not absorb water. These impervious areas have increased storm water and snow runoff," Carol O'Cleireacain of the Brookings Institution said in a May report. "By charging the owners of impervious areas, the payment burden is on those thought to be most responsible for run-off."
The surcharge isn't set to fall anytime soon - in fact, much bigger hikes are on the way for customers. D.C. Water has forecasted annual increases to the fee every year until 2019, when it's expected to hit $28.77 a month.
George Hawkins, D.C. Water's general manager, said the agency ended up accepting an 8.7 percent total increase for the next fiscal year instead of the 9.9 percent hike it first considered.
"They're slightly less than what we had originally proposed," Hawkins said. "We have dialed it back."
The water tab might not be the only utility bill to climb for District residents. Pepco is seeking a 5 percent rate increase for D.C. customers, but city utility regulators have not ruled on the request.
In July, Maryland authorities approved an $18 million bump in Pepco rates, a far cry from the $68 million surge the company wanted to implement.
After the Maryland Public Service Commission's ruling, Pepco warned that the rejection of the increase could mean more years of spotty service.