Paying for Water and Sewer

Rising Costs of Drinking Water

The cost of providing drinking water and waste water treatment is rising as suppliers meet the needs of aging infrastructure, comply with public health standards, and provide additional water capacity as water usage per capita increases in most areas and the number of customers served increases.

Public water systems have already constructed their least expensive water supply sources and building future supply sources increases construction and operation costs. In most cases, these increasing costs have caused water suppliers to raise their rates.

Despite rate increases, water is generally still a bargain compared to other utilities, such as electricity, cable TV, gas, and telephone service. In the United States, combined water and sewer bills average only about 0.5 percent of household income.

Source: City of Raleigh

Who Pays for Water?

Our region is growing quickly and new development places new stress on our drinking water supply and water quality. As the water quality of area reservoirs like Falls and Jordan Lake continue to deteriorate, Wake taxpayers will pay more to update treatment facilities, apply more treatment chemicals, and build new facilities. Learn more about innovative strategies to share the costs of water updates with new development.

Paying & Planning for Future Water & Sewer Needs

Raleigh Public Utilities oversees drinking water and wastewater treatment for the City of Raleigh (due to DOUBLE in population in 20 years) as well as the smaller, but fast-growing Eastern Wake municipalities of Wake Forest, Rolesville, Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, and Garner. These cities face three serious drinking water and sewer challenges: having enough water supply long-term, cleaning up polluted Falls Lake reservoir, and future very high infrastructure costs. American cities nationwide face an enormous crisis underground because water and sewer pipes are simpy aging and must be replaced, to the tune of several billion dollars in Eastern Wake County alone. Our water has been very cheap for decades, as we’ve enjoyed paying just pennies per gallon of water. But replacing pipes cannot be paid for with our current water and sewer fees. No one likes their bills going up, but we must come to terms with the high value of having clean drinking water and sanitary wastewater services.

Raleigh’s City Council appointed an independent task force in 2011 to address these major water challenges. The Water Utilities Transition Advisory Taskforce (WUTAT), composed of water experts, is making recommendations not only on how to cover future infrastructure costs, but also about how improving water efficiency and using stormwater can extend our finite water supplies.The WUTAT’s 2011 water rate recommendations are here, with more to come. Click here to read WUTAT’s Guiding Principles for Utility Management. WakeUP Wake County is monitoring the WUTAT and communicating with city officials on these water issues, so important to good growth planning.