Despite public outcry, water bills average
Waterworks director says system is one of the most efficient in area
Parish residents may think they are paying a high price for their water usage, but the main increases have been in sewerage and garbage which are also on the water bill.
Waterworks Department Director Robert Brou says that a recent study actually proves that the parish has one of the most efficient water systems in the area.
"56 water systems in our area were surveyed in 2006 and St. Charles was 42nd out of the 56 systems," Brou said. "When you consider that all of the other systems receive subsidies in the form of taxes to operate and we are strictly collecting user fees, St. Charles appears to be one of the more efficient water systems."
That study was done by GSE Associates, Inc. and details the average monthly bill for customers receiving 8,000 gallons of water. While some companies or districts subsidize their rates through other sources such as maintenance and operating taxes, general funds, and sales taxes, the comparison was based only on the direct charges reflected on a typical monthly consumer bill.
Residents in Jefferson Parish were found to be paying the lowest monthly bill, with an average of $10.10. Ascension Parish Water District No. 2 was last with an average bill of $41.89, while St. Charles Parish finished 42 with an average bill of $25.32. Though the parish was placed near the bottom of the survey, residents are paying $15.22 more than
Jefferson Parish and $16.57 lower than Ascension Parish, which puts St. Charles residents closer to the middle of the pack.
"Until the water rates were raised in 2005, the department had not seen a real increase in nearly 20 years," Brou said. "When it was raised it was less than the cost of living increase from the previous 10 years, despite all of the additional regulations with which the department has had to comply."
Brou went on to say that since 1985, the price of water only increased from $1.15 per thousand gallons to $2.29 per thousand gallons. In the same period, garbage, which is also on the bill, has gone from $3.20 per unit to $17.31, while sewer has gone from .82 cents per thousand gallons to the current rate of $4.67.
"Even at the current water rate, the employees of the Department of Waterworks will deliver to your homes all the water you need to drink, bathe, clean your house, wash your laundry, water your plants and lawn, or for any other residential purpose, for only .60 cents per day for the average customer," Brou said. "This water meets or exceeds all state and federal Safe Drinking Water regulations and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year."
Brou also addressed recent statements by WWL that the department was losing over 34 percent of the water it produces because of theft and water leaks. Instead, Brou said the issue is the result of a software clitch.
Brou also said that the problem does not affect residents’ bills.
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