Thousands of Salt Lake area businesses and residents will pay higher water rates beginning today. One of the largest water providers in the state approved a rate increase this spring.
Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District mostly provides wholesale water for local cities and smaller water districts in Salt Lake County. This year’s rate increase is 4 percent for wholesalers. So how does that impact a homeowner’s water bill? It’s probably about $3 dollars more during dry summer months says David Martin, who oversees the district’s finances. Martin says that pays for inflation and the construction of new water projects.
“Conservation is a big part of our plan as we’re trying to reduce usage by 25 percent by the year 2025, so that we don’t have to construct more projects than aren't planned,” Martin says.
On average, the district has raised rates between 4 and 5 percent each year over the past decade. Still it has some of the lowest rates in the region. Matt Olsen, a spokesperson for the district says there is evidence that as water rates rise, consumption decreases. But he says there are limitations on how high rates can go.
“We’re a government entity,” Olsen says. “We’re not a for-profit organization. So water rates and our water revenues are revenue neutral.”
While that’s part of a much larger policy question, the Utah legislature passed a law this year to implement a tiered rate structure, in which customers pay higher rates when they use more water.
Olsen says the district is studying how to implement a tiered structure to promote conservation without overcharging users.