Reservoir lease holders will see an increase in their water bills following actions of the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District (PRVWSD) board of directors.
The PRVWSD approved at its September meeting a rate increase for its water and sewer customers effective for the October billing cycle.
The increase is necessary to offset the higher costs the state agency is paying its regional sewer providers, PRVWSD General Manager John Sigman told board members.
“We are looking at an 80 percent increase in what we pay to the West Rankin Utility Authority, which just built a $150 million wastewater treatment plant that is scheduled to go online in October,” Sigman said. “That’s in addition to past increases by both the Madison County Wastewater Authority and the East Madison County Sewage Disposal System.
“The agency has absorbed those increases in Madison County without increasing rates to our customers, but we can no longer afford to continue absorbing those costs if we are to maintain a fund to repair and replace infrastructure, some of which is 50 years old.”
He said these repairs are usually expensive, such as a water line break or a sewer getting clogged, and they need to make sure they have the money to make sure the water flows smoothly in these scenarios.
While PRVWSD supplies its residents with clean water from its own wells, all sewage is sent to regional providers to be processed. Prior to the new wastewater facility opening in Rankin County, all of the sewage has been sent by Rankin County and south Madison County to be processed at Jackson’s Savannah Street facility. In October, the Rankin County sewage will be carried to the new facility.
PRVWSD’s last water/sewage rate increase was passed six years ago with built-in annual escalations that ended in 2020.
The new increase will average out to about 20 percent per customer, mostly through a new line item on the monthly bill called a Regional Sewage Charge (RSC). This is a charge, Sigman said, that most surrounding communities in the metro area are already billing their customers, and mostly at higher rates than PRVWSD will be charging. PRVWSD’s RSC for FY 2022 is based on a $2.25 fee per 1,000 gallons of water used.
Rates currently charged in neighboring communities range from $2 to as high as $5.35.
Under the new PRVWSD rates, a customer who uses 6,000 gallons of water per month currently pays $68.40 per month for water and sewer. Beginning in October, that same customer would receive a bill for $82.50, an increase of $14.10.
Sigman said that there will be small increases in both the water (5 cents per 1,000 gallons) and sewer (15 cents per 1,000 gallons) volumetric charges, a fee charged only to those customers using over 3,000 gallons of water a month.
The current water volumetric rate is $5.45 per 1,000 gallons, which will increase to $5.50 per 1,000. The current sewer volumetric rate is $7.35 per 1,000 gallons and will increase to $7.50 per 1,000 gallons.
Sigman said that nearly half of PRVWSD’s customers will see only the increase created by the regional sewage charge. Leaseholders using less than 3,000 gallons in July 2021 made up 47 percent of PRVWSD’s residential customers (2,578 of 5,487). Those customers will see their bills increase from the current $30 per month to as high
Thursday’s rate increase was approved for the water year 2022, which begins Oct.1 2021.
“We have to do it,” Sigman said. “We don’t like to charge people more, but we have to do it to maintain the water and sewer fund here.”
Also in the board meeting on Sept. 16, the board voted in a new president for the 2022 year. The board member elected was Billy Cook of Carthage. Additionally, they approved aerial aquatic weed spraying to combat and control the invasive and aquatic weeds present at the reservoir.