Garner lowers water rates

GARNER Town leaders announced Tuesday they are reducing the price customers pay for water.

There has been lots of talk of water as the new scarce commodity. And even as local lakes are overflowing, the state is still technically in a drought.

But now in Garner, the prices are falling with the water. This is surprising for some who think cheaper water will mean less conservation.

For the last seven years, Garner residents have paid about 50 percent more for the same water that Raleigh residents use.

"I didn't know Garner bills were higher than Raleigh," Garner resident Thelma Butler said.

Butler says she does not remember the big decision. But back in 2001, Garner decided to tap into Raleigh's water, and the steady supply came at a cost.

Garner homes would pay more per gallon until about $25 million in connector pipes and treatment plants were paid off.

Today, the projects are paid off three years early. And Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams stressed the city has fulfilled a pledge to lower water rates to what they are now in Raleigh.

"What we're doing here today is what we promised the people. And we're keeping that promise," Williams said.

But cheaper water prices move against the current of raising water rates to encourage conservation.

"If we're going to lower rates, it's almost a giveaway," said Dean Noyouks with the Neuse River Foundation. "People are going feel like they can use more water and not pay as much for it. And I think we need to start working in the opposite direction."

Butler and her family who conserved will now likely use more water if it's cheaper.

"I know one thing, we'll be watering the yard more," Butler said.

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