The Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District (LWWSD) sent out a letter this week regarding their proposed increases for water and sewer rates. I am left wondering how other properties in Whatcom County will fare as the Department of Ecology layers more costly regulatory hurdles on us?
Their letter admits that the LWWSD rates are high in comparison to other water and sewer utilities. The LWWSD cite a number of reasons for the need to increase water and sewer rates:
- Smaller customer base
- Stagnant growth
- Aging infrastructure
- Few industrial or commercial accounts
They even offer a number of subsidies to help single family households to manage the overall 21% increase in rates over the next five years:
- Low-Income Senior and Disabled Rate – LWWSD propose to create discounted rates for low-income seniors and the disabled single family residents of up to 40%.
- Conservation Block Rate – LWWSD propose to consolidate a group of single family residential water customers to create an artificially higher volume of water usage per month, entitling them to the lower overage rate.
Well I have a question for the LWWSD. Who picks up the difference after you’ve created the subsidized households and is that sustainable? As more and more families choose not to live in the LWWSD due to the higher costs caused by the DOE’s new storm water regulations and the pending overlay of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) standards, how will you sustain affordable water and sewer services for your customers? Or, could it be that the deal you worked out with the City of Bellingham is the slow walk to regulate all property owners out of the Lake Whatcom watershed?
~ Kris Halterman