City to install water meters in north Everett
EVERETT - The city will be installing residential water meters soon.
About 12,500 residents, mostly in north Everett, are not on a meter and pay a monthly flat rate for water. The city will begin installing meters across the city in June to comply with state environmental regulations that go into effect in 2017.
The city will bill newly metered customers on the flat rate system for one year as a courtesy. During the one-year transition period, the bill will include what their water usage will cost under metered rates to educate households about their water usage.
“It is our intent to do the best we can to make this painless,” public works director Dave Davis said last week.
The meter installation rollout will go from east to west across north Everett with 25 to 50 water meters installed a week, Davis said.
Even at that fast clip, it will be close as to whether the city meets the 2017 meter deadline, Davis said.
The flat rate is $53.40 for water and $93.40 for sewer for each two-month billing cycle. Households with a water meter pay a base rate of $32.04 for 12,000 cubic feet of water and $93.40 for sewer for each two-month billing cycle.
Households that use less water will save money on the meter system. Households that use a lot of water for their gardens or pools will see higher bills than under the flat rate system.
The project will cost the city about $9.5 million, largely for parts. The work is being done in-house, and it costs about $750 for each meter installation.
The state regulation was made in the interest of water conservation.
The state wants municipalities to use water efficiently and that falls on end users, public works information and education manager Marla Carter said previously.
The city didn’t begin requiring meters until about 20 years ago. About half of Everett’s 24,000 single-family homes have meters and most are in south Everett, which has newer construction.
Everett will hire a consultant to analyze its utility rates for the near future.
The city’s water rates are structured through a council-approved four-year plan that ends this year. The consultant will help plan out Everett’s future rates.
One minor factor is the loss of the Kimberly-Clark mill, a heavy water user.
The mill accounted for almost $2 million in annual revenue, utilities finance manager Matt Welborn said.
“Just because a big water user goes away does not mean a reduction in costs,” Welborn said last week.
The city will make up the lost revenue with an uptick in utility rates, but the rates won’t hit pocketbooks hard. Because the city can spread the cost, the direct impact to the average ratepayer would be less than $1 on the bill, Welborn said.
The consultant’s work will cost almost $150,000.
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published March 21, 2012