A new summer rate scale for water use by Columbia residents takes effect Saturday and lasts through August.
The changes are intended to encourage residents to conserve water, said Ryan Williams, assistant director of utilities at Columbia Water & Light.
The restructuring will mostly affect customers who use a lot of water during the summer. The changes create a three-tier system for residential water customers in the summer and will charge customers higher rates if they exceed a certain amount.
During June, July and August, residents will be billed depending upon how much they use.
Residents who fall under the first tier will pay $2.86 per 100 cubic feet of water used each month, the standard rate for water use in the non-summer months. Tier 2 will increase the charge to $4.01, and the third tier will cost $6.02 per 100 cubic feet of water.
The three-tier rate system is based on the residents’ average winter use for the quarter that includes January, February and March. Average winter use is 400 cubic feet of water each month, Williams said. One-hundred cubic feet is equal to about 748 gallons, according to Columbia’s water utility website.
• Customers will remain in the first tier ($2.86 per 100 cubic feet of water) until they reach 70 percent of their winter average.
• If water use per month exceeds 70 percent and up to 170 percent of the winter average, they fall into the second tier ($4.01 per 100 cubic feet of water).
• The rate for the third tier ($6.02) will be imposed if the monthly water use is above 170 percent of the winter average.
Water used for lawn irrigation will also be charged differently in the summer. The summer water use rate will increase to $6.02 from the non-summer rate of $2.86 per 100 cubic feet of water used, according to a city ordinance.
Williams said a customer’s bill could increase substantially based on average winter use.
“It just depends on what your summer habits are like,” Williams said. “If you utilize the same amount all year around, you won’t get into the third tier.”
Columbia Water & Light identifies that about 60 percent of summer water use is from outdoor landscaping. Officials suggest multiple tips on water conservation:
- Avoid irrigating pavement.
- Spread mulch to retain water.
- Mow grass to 2½ inches.
- Sweep pavement instead of hosing it.