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Water rate changes

Greetings everyone--

A note to help everyone understand the necessary water rate changes that will begin in January, 2020. But first a quick walk back in time:  In 1992, when this district was formed, the USDA Rural Development set the rate to cover the cost of providing water to our customers at $23.40.  For twenty-seven (27) years, that rate has not changed! If we take a very conservative look at actual inflation (4% per year) and applied that to the rate, our minimum bill would now be $64.79! I use that as an indicator of where the rate should be, to be more in line with actual costs. As everyone is well aware, the cost of living is ever increasing, especially in rural areas. Factors that are out of our control influence all of us. We have little control over what we pay for gas, milk, electricity, all of the things we enjoy in our lives. But we do get to make choices about our own individual priorities. In comparison, the average individual’s cell phone bill (according to J.D. Powers and Associates, an American-based data analytics and consumer intelligence company) is $71.00. I don’t think anyone has died from not having a cell phone, but certainly many have died from not having water, or contaminated water. The costs associated with providing the level of service our customers deserve and expect is a responsibility we all must realize we share. We don't get to go to the gas station and name our own price for gas any more than we get to go to the grocery store and set our own prices for food. Our district is in the same situation as each of our customers; just trying to do the best we can with what we have.

We, as the board and management, strive to be the best stewards of our water system and work diligently on a daily basis to be as efficient and effective as possible. Like you, we struggle with hard decisions and difficult choices that result in change. We firmly believe change is required if we are to implement best practices to provide the best possible service of delivering excellent quality water to every customer’s faucets, showerheads, sinks, and homes. There are countless factors that affect our business, but it is just that, a business. If we are to be sustainable, to be able to provide the service of delivering quality water to our customers, we have to make changes, knowing full well these decisions affect us the same as every one of our customers.  However, even the most efficient system has to meet costs and look forward to being able to provide this service into the future. We have to be sustainable; not just from month to month, but years into the future. We all have the responsibility to make choices with our water. We can control how much we use as well as how wisely we use it. I'm sure we have all heard the cost of water is going to be extreme. We've talked about this for years, and yet haven't really acted on it. The true value of water service hasn’t been realized. Our current rate is approximately one cent per gallon. That is quite a bargain compared to the rest of our costs of living! Hopefully everyone will understand we are all in this together, not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren too.

After much deliberation, discussion, and fact checking, we are forced to make some changes to our water rates. We did not increase the Minimum bill. In that if the service is active but no water is used the rate is exactly the same. We did however, change the rate structure in that we now will bill for all water used. The first thousand gallons that was included in the Minimum rate will now be billed as water used. The rate for each tier was raised 4%. The rates are reviewed annually, and any changes will be made with the best interests of each of our customers in mind. Therefore, we hope you understand this was not something we take lightly or wanted to do, it is something we are forced to do if we are to stay in the business of providing excellent water service to every customer. If there are any questions or we may be of help, please don’t hesitate to call or come by our office in Gerty. It truly is an honor and privilege to serve as the manager of Hughes County Rural Water District #6.

Sheldon Tatum


Hughes County RWD#6