TREMONTON, Utah — Tremonton resident Brian Tanner was stunned when he opened his water bill at the end of last month.
Instead of seeing the usual $14.10 charge for secondary water usage, Tanner says his bill was a whopping $233. The bill also said he had used 104,500 gallons of water in the previous month.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Tanner said. “I was the highest bill in the neighborhood.”
Tanner said he wasn’t the only one, either. Most of his neighbors also saw a sharp increase in their water rates last month.
This pricey change is a result of new water rates approved by the Tremonton City Council in March.
Previous to the decision, residents were charged a flat rate of $14.10 a month for secondary water use, which comes from canals and is generally used to water lawns.
The city’s new pricing system now includes a $10 base rate, plus anywhere from $1.50 to $3.50 per thousand gallons, depending on how much water is used. The more water is consumed, the more expensive the rate becomes.
Tanner is frustrated because his neighborhood is one of the first areas to have meters installed, so they are paying the higher rate. Meanwhile, other residents without meters are still paying about $14 a month.
The city says bills will be adjusted for residents’ first month on the new system. They say they are also working to get new meters in place as soon as possible.
Why use a tiered system?
Water conservation is the reason Tremonton city manager Shawn Warnke says they implemented the new tiered system and made the change. The city obtains secondary water through its shares with the Bear River Canal Company.
A few months ago, the city installed meters on a few properties just to see how much water was being used.
“We were really surprised, frankly, at how much water people were using when the water was unmetered. More or less, people weren’t being accountable for what was actually used,” Warnke said.
In 2016, the state legislature passed a law that says culinary water must be on an increasing rate system. In 2018, a bill was presented that would place the same restrictions on secondary water. While this bill was not passed, it inspired Tremonton city leaders to take action to conserve water by instituting an increasing rate system.
Warnke says they hear citizens’ concerns and are planning on holding another open house to address questions and complaints.
“We are trying to get the word out,” Warnke said. “We’re trying to educate and give the residents the ability to control what they want to spend on water.”
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