Raleigh raises rates for water usage

June 29, 2010 3:42:14 PM PDT
Imagine being punished for doing what you're told. That is exactly how some Raleigh residents feel when it comes to their water rates.

The City Council approved a budget Monday night that raises those rates 9 percent in July and again in November.

Some residents are left wondering why. The answer is that this has been in the works for months.

"I kind of expected it with the drought that we've had and everything, and with the growth." said Randolph Rodgers, a Raleigh resident of 30 years.

But that doesn't make it easier to take.

"No it isn't fair," he said. "But fair isn't the point."

The City of Raleigh's water rate is going up for everyone. But residents are asking, of all things, why water?

"Our peak day 10 years ago was about 69 million gallons a day. Now we have 40 percent more people, but the peak day is only 70 million gallons," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

It means that when people were asked to conserve during the last drought affecting the Triangle, they did. But that conservation means less revenue for a city with a growing water system.

So Raleigh will now bill the very same people they asked to conserve. And that's not sitting well with residents.

"Perhaps they ought to tone down their expenditures a little bit instead of asking us to cough up a higher percentage," Stanley Martin, a Raleigh resident of 22 years said. "I don't see any good reason why they constantly have to spend more money."

Then there is the tiered rate system, set to take effect in November.

That setup means billing different people at different rates, depending on their level of water usage.

The mayor says that is when water conservation will pay off for users.

"Folks who've been conserving will be rewarded in that they'll have a lower tier that takes affect November 1, and there won't be any adjustment in that tier as of Nov. 1," Meeker said.

But neighbors say an increase is an increase, big or small. And with everyone pinching pennies, they say now is not the time.

Some residents who spoke with ABC11 Eyewitness News wondered if the City is doing enough to store its water.

Meeker says he thinks the reservoir capacity is good and that the City's water supply is relatively inexpensive compared to other areas.

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