St. George approves water rate increase

Stock image | St. George News

ST. GEORGE – Starting July 1, St. George residents will paying more for their water. A rate increase was approved by the City Council Thursday that covers the increase in cost of water bought from the Washington County Water District, as well as the cost of maintaining the city’s water infrastructure.

The City Council unanimously approved an increase of around 30 cents per 1,000 gallons of water used by each customer. The increase for an average household is estimated to be an additional $3 per month.

Approximately 96 cents of the $3 increase originates from the water district’s moving to charge St. George an additional 10 cents per 1,000 gallons it buys from the district, or $1 per customer per month. St. George is one of eight cities in the county that buys part of its water from the conservancy district and will be subject to the rate increase.

The additional $2 per customer per month will go toward maintaining and improving the city’s aging water infrastructure.

A water main break across from the St. George City Cemetery damaged the road Sunday night, St. George, Utah, Sept. 13, 2015 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News
This 2015 file photo shows how a water main break across from the St. George City Cemetery damaged the road, St. George, Utah, Sept. 13, 2015 | Photo by Ric Wayman, St. George News

“We do have aging infrastructure and water lines break occasionally,” Scott Taylor, the city’s water services director, said Thursday. “We’re seeing our infrastructure is starting to age,” he said.


Read more: City of St. George says home flooded by water main break is ‘act of God’; residents see it differently


Water lines tend to have a lifespan of about 50 years, Taylor said, and the older they get, the more prone they are to breaking. The city maintains about 800 miles of water lines with 170 miles that may need replacing in the future, he said.

Aging water systems are a nationwide problem, Taylor said, though St. George seems to be faring better than some cities. Citing a study conducted by the American Water Works Association, he said a city is doing OK if it only has about 10 breaks in its pipeline per 100 miles. By comparison, St. George has around six breaks per 100 miles.

Still, city officials want to get ahead of any potential problems, Taylor said.

“It’s either pay now or pay later,” he said.

While the city staff likely has little intention of recommending another water rate increase next year, City Manager Gary Esplin said, Mayor Jon Pike said the same can’t be said for the Washington County Water Conservancy District.

Until recently, the last time the water district raised its wholesale rates to municipal customers was 2006. The recent 10 cents hike per 1,000 gallons approved by the district’s board of trustees could become an annual occurrence for the foreseeable future, Pike said.

City of St. George water crews work to repair a water main break on the 50 East block of 700 South that flooded a nearby townhome, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News
This May 2016 photo shows City of St. George water crews working to repair a water main break on the 50 East block of 700 South that flooded a nearby townhome, St. George, Utah, May 20, 2016 | Photo by Mike Cole, St. George News

The rate increase didn’t come without opposition. Resident Kenneth Gee told the council the increase, along with other potential hikes in taxes and fees, would negatively affect those like himself who are on a fixed income. He also questioned whether or not the city was potentially wasting money on employees who don’t put in an honest day’s work.

Both Pike and Esplin were quick to defend the city’s employees.

“You don’t get away with doing nothing in this organization for very long,” Pike said.

As for the water rate increase, Pike said he believes that past and current City Council members and city staff have maintained a practice of trying to keep water and power costs as low as possible. As well, he said, revenue gained from the rate increase will be set aside specifically for the maintenance needs of city’s water infrastructure.

“When you start skimping on that is when you have problems with your infrastructure,” the mayor said.

Other business

L-R: Ski Ingram and St. George Mayor Jon Pike. Ingram, who has become a well known community figure through his participation with the American Legion and several venterans-centric and other events, was honored by the St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
L-R: Ski Ingram and St. George Mayor Jon Pike. Ingram, who has become a well known community figure through his participation with the American Legion and several venterans-centric and other events, was honored by the St. George City Council, St. George, Utah, June 16, 2016 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The City Council approved many other fee increases for items related to Leisure Services, such as fees associated with the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center, as well as registration for races and arts festivals. The rate increases go into effect July 1.

The council recognized and honored Ski Ingram, a veteran and commander of American Legion Lester Keate Post 90 in St. George. Ingram, who has been involved in many veteran-centric events and the community in general, is moving to Gilbert, Arizona, to be closer to family.

Annual daytime water restrictions were enacted. St. George residents are encouraged to water their lawns and gardens between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. only. The restrictions tend to last through September.

The 2016-17 city budget was approved by the council.

An engineering services contract for proposed Bloomington Drive improvements was approved by the council for $86,000

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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14 Comments

  • Chris June 17, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Anyone have a figure for what the average bill is for water in the area? Moving to Washington in September and may want to reconsider my landscaping plan. More xeriscape may be the answer.

  • .... June 17, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Sounds good to me business is business, I don’t have a problem with it. .

    • .... June 18, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Is this comment ever going to be posted ?

  • beacon June 17, 2016 at 10:46 am

    I hope with this rate increase we will see the City of St. George watering more carefully themselves. When we drive on Snow Canyon Parkway the ball fields are often being watered in the middle of the day at temps 90 and above. That’s not wise use of our precious water. The city seems to be speaking out of both sides of their mouth: pay more and value our water while we waste it! Also, with nearly half of our water going to commercial, industrial and institutional, what’s the city doing to try and curb this excessive use? Private citizens may exercise more conservation with the increased rate but will the businesses and institutions or will they just pass the cost along to their customers or deduct on their taxes rather than changing their behavior?

  • ladybugavenger June 17, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    That cost of the water on the slide must be paid for somehow. Pass it on to all customers then they can actually make a profit. And then they do it again next year at 50 cents so no one notices and then $4 a month the next year and they will say the consumers are using too much water, there is a drought.

  • Bob June 17, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    wait ’til tack on a monthly $50 surcharge to pay for that pipe

  • 42214 June 17, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    I thought our cost of living is 30 percent less here.

  • DB June 17, 2016 at 4:59 pm

    Did they do anything to change what I’ll call the ‘rate buckets’? I use so little water that I can cut my usage by 50% (winter, for example) and not save a penny. Meanwhile, the sprinklers are running two hours a day, six days a week at the condos across the way and they are probably getting a pretty good deal, relatively speaking. (I know they are set that way on purpose because the one day they don’t run is the day the lawn gets mowed)

  • .... June 17, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    People always complain when the rates go up,water your lawn and pay the bill folks

    • Bob June 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      oh Dumpster, so much wisdom from u

      • .... June 18, 2016 at 10:47 pm

        Oh Bob so much wisdom from you. NOTICE THE SPELLING BOB. ………..you

  • .... June 18, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    Attention St George news Bob is stalking me. LOL !

    • ladybugavenger June 19, 2016 at 7:29 am

      HaHa! Go Bob!

      • .... June 19, 2016 at 12:28 pm

        Hey that’s not funny ladybug he really likes me ! ROFLMAO

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