April 3, 2012
Revised water rates reject values
The Sammamish Plateau Water and Sewer District’s new rate structure has taken a giant step backward.
Previously, the rates had been set up so that those who use the most water pay a higher rate. Now the tiers in the rate structure have been flattened — meaning a roughly 6 percent cut in water bills to those who use the most.
Swimming pool or hot tub? Farm animals to feed? No problem, no surcharge for extra water. Same rate for everybody — in fact, please use more!
This change flies in the face of the environmental consciousness that we’ve developed here in the Northwest. There is no legitimate reason for changing the structure. Making heavy users pay more doesn’t cost jobs, or tread on property rights or bring into play any of the other tradeoffs sometimes associated with environmental regulations. All it does is make it cheaper to waste water.
The district assures us that there is plenty of water so we no longer need to conserve. Absurd. The lakes may be deep, but they’re not bottomless.
And then there is the rate hike just approved. According to district budget documents, water rates have gone up 40.2 percent and sewer by 41 percent since 2007.
The district’s numbers, however, ignore the compounding effect of increases. In actuality, the water rates have gone up nearly 47 percent and sewer 48 percent in five years.
The district says it needs the extra money to save for future replacement of pipes, and to make up for declining water usage.
Officials say most residents haven’t noticed the rate increase because they now use less water. So, they’re being punished for conserving water!? Where’s the reward for being a good steward?
None of the rate changes make sense. Residents are angry about the changes, and rightly so.
It’s just possible that there are more changes that need to be made than the water and sewer rates – starting with the commissioners.