1. What is a new rate structure?
A rate structure is how customers are charged for water/sewer, not the amount charged (rates).
2. When will the new rate structure take effect?
The new rate structure took effect on July 1, 2019.
3. How will the new rate structure impact my bill?
A proposed 5 percent revenue increase will accompany the rate structure change in July. The increase will fund needed infrastructure maintenance and repair. When implemented with the new rate structure, a majority of customers will see an increase in their bills. For example, a family of three that uses the average amount of water (about 15,000 gallons) per quarter will see their quarterly bill go up by about $4. However, about 30 percent of WSSC customers will actually see a small decrease in their bills. This is because customers under the new rate structure will be charged for water use within each tier, instead of for all water use at the highest tier (which is how customers are charged under the current structure). The new rate structure also promotes conservation – helping to save you money by encouraging wise water use.
4. What rate structure was selected?
In July 2018, WSSC Commissioners selected a four-tier inclining block rate structure, meaning that the price for water increases as customers use more and enter higher tiers (see chart below). With the passage of the Maryland Water Conservation Act of 2002, state guidance specifically identifies an inclining block rate structure as a strategy for encouraging water conservation.
Note: The rates in the table above are based on a proposed 5% revenue increase for FY20. Final rates for FY20, when the new rate structure will take effect, will be adopted in June 2019.
5. Why did WSSC select a new rate structure?
This is the first new rate structure in more than 25 years, and the new four-tier structure will help modernize and simplify how customers are charged for water/sewer. The new rate structure also better matches how customers use water today. Additionally, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) recently ordered WSSC to develop a new rate structure. WSSC’s current 16-tier rate structure was deemed unreasonable by the PSC because they found it to be preferential to low-usage customers.
6. What are the benefits of a new rate structure?
The new rate structure will encourage water conservation, better align costs with rates, and provide a more predictable revenue stream to help WSSC pay to repair/replace aging infrastructure. Additionally, the new rate structure will charge customers for usage that falls within each tier, instead of for all their usage at the highest tiered rate. Under WSSC’s current rate structure, customers are billed at the highest rate back to the first drop of water. This leads to revenue instability for WSSC.
7. When did WSSC start examining new rate structures?
In 2010, WSSC formed the Bi-County Infrastructure Funding Working Group, consisting of representatives from Montgomery and Prince George’s county governments, WSSC staff and external subject matter experts to solicit input on the rate study. Based on the recommendation of the working group, WSSC initiated a comprehensive rate structure analysis in 2016.
8. Has the public been involved in this process?
Yes. Throughout the rate structure development/selection process, WSSC engaged in an extensive public outreach campaign to garner input and feedback from residential and non-residential customers, elected officials and other interested stakeholders in both counties. In total, WSSC held or participated in more than 30 public meetings and/or hearings since spring 2017, which were attended by nearly 1,500 customers and generated more than 300 total comments on the proposed rate structures. Additionally, all WSSC meetings were livestreamed and seen by nearly 2,500 viewers.
9. Where can I find more information about the rate structure alternatives and study?
Visit www.wsscwater.com/billchanges for information. This website includes videos from all public meetings hosted by WSSC and media coverage from public outreach efforts.
10. What can I do to conserve water and lower my WSSC bill?
There are numerous ways to conserve water to lower your bill. Visit www.wsscwater.com/conservation to find out what you can do to conserve water and save.