WSSC Water and Infrastructure Fee Proposal Generates Citizen Response

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has proposed increasing its maintenance fees and adding an infrastructure fee for water and sewage services.  An August 7 article examined citizen feedback to the proposal, with some citizens arguing that those that use the least water would be among the most affected by the fee changes.  Other citizens called for WSSC to institute a uniform fee system not based on actual water usage.  The citizen feedback illustrates the challenges public utilities face in light of increasing infrastructure demands and declining utility consumption based on more efficient usage and conservation.  From the article:

But local customers said during Wednesday’s meeting at the Montgomery County Council building in Rockville that they are being penalized for installing low-flow toilets and faucets, as well as conserving by watering their lawns less and other measures. They noted that bills for households that use less water, including residents living alone, would be affected the most.

“First, we were told, ‘Help us save water,’” said Nana Ofei, a Germantown resident. “Now, we are hearing, ‘Oh, you didn’t take too much of my water. You’ve got to pay up.’”

Some residents called for the commission to change its rate structure to a uniform one rather than the current 16-tier system that charges customers who use more water higher rates. A seven-member family is charged 59 percent more for water than a single-person household, even though the larger family uses about 25 percent less water per person, said Richard D. Boltuck, a Bethesda resident and economist.  …

Going to a more uniform rate could result in a “tremendous” increase for lower-water users, said Chris Cullinan, WSSC’s acting chief financial officer. But he said it’s an issue officials will review again in the near future.

In the article WSSC stated that it was maintaining an “open and transparent process” and that the fee proposal could be modified based on feedback.