The Los Alamos County Council approved a new tiered water rate by a vote of 5-2 on Tuesday. The new rates go into effect immediately.
The tiered rates now in effect are:
• First Tier: $4.19 per 1000 gallons for the first 8,999 gallons consumed (same as current unit rate);
• Second Tier: $4.45 per 1000 gallons for consumption between 9000 and 15,000 gallons; and
• Third Tier: $5.32 per 1,000 gallons for all consumption above 15,000 gallons.
The Department of Public Utilities had determined that a six-percent increase in revenue was necessary to address high capital and maintenance costs. DPU staff and the Board of Public Utilities spent months considering a change to a tiered water rate that more accurately allocates costs to high water users without unduly impacting users such as large families.
Under the current flat rate, residents who used 4,000 to 4,500 gallons per month (the average use for all households during nonpeak months) pay the same rate for water as commercial users and residential customers using as much as 30,000 gallons a month.
The new rates reflect the higher costs associated with high summer usage. DPU has found that 21 percent of the county’s households use nearly 56 percent of the water during peak months.