Utilities' forecast looks stable; regular rate increases projected

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By Kelly LeVan

A woman recently called the Los Alamos utilities department, concerned about a large bill. Ordinarily, she used about 4,000 gallons of water each month, but after her old, inaccurate meter was replaced, her total shot up to 18,000 gallons, or about $50. County Conservation Officer Matt Dickens came to her house to see what he could do.It turned out the extra 14,000 gallons had leaked from two constantly running toilets. He recommended a fix, after which her consumption – and bill – returned to normal.The Department of Public Utilities often deals with issues like the one above. Sometimes, it’s up to the customers to keep their costs down. But the Utilities Board also works to keep rates as low as possible. Customers’ and the county’s combined efforts become especially important when the department has a large project. In 2013, for instance, the San Juan-Chama diversion will be funded with a $25 million loan.

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