OWASA Board seeks comments on proposed change in water rates for Multi-Family Master-Metered Customers such as Apartment Complexes

On Thursday night, October 27th, the OWASA Board of Directors will receive comments on a proposal to change the water rate for multi-family master-metered (MFMM) accounts such as apartment complexes. The Board will meet at 7 PM in the Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

For MFMM accounts, OWASA bills the property owner rather than individual residents. About one-third of the MFMM owners independently meter and bill residents for water and sewer service under rules of the NC Utilities Commission.

Current seasonal water rates

MFMM accountholders now pay seasonal water rates:

  • $4.16 per 1,000 gallons of water use from October through April (“off-peak” demand period)
  • $7.91 per 1,000 gallons of water use from May through September (“peak” demand period)

OWASA bills also include fixed monthly service charges for water and sewer service based on meter size, and $6.48 per 1,000 gallons for sewer service. The Board is not considering changes to monthly service or sewer charges at this time.

Proposed uniform water rate

Instead of seasonal rates, the Board of Directors is considering a uniform, year-round rate of $5.67 per 1,000 gallons.

How to comment to the OWASA Board

In addition to comments and questions in the public hearing, the OWASA Board welcomes e-mails toboard_and_leadership@owasa.org and letters to 400 Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro, NC 27510.

To ask questions of OWASA staff

Please send e-mail to info@owasa.org or contact Stephen Winters, CPA, Director of Finance and Customer Service, at 919-537-4230; or Mary Tiger, Sustainability Manager, at 919-537-4241.

Why is the OWASA Board considering this change?

  • As a group, MFMM customers’ water use does not fluctuate greatly with the seasons. A uniform rate would be more in line with OWASA’s costs to serve MFMM customers.
  • The proposed change would make bills easier to understand. Most residents in MFMM complexes do not use more water in the warmer months and many are surprised when private bills change due to seasonal rate changes, but their water use doesn’t.

If approved, when would the uniform water rate for MFMM locations go into effect?

This has not been decided, but the OWASA Board has discussed the potential to put the uniform rate into effect in May 2017 (when the peak seasonal rate would go into effect under current policy).

How would the proposed change impact bills of residents of MFMM complexes?

For residents whose water use is not individually sub-metered by the property owner, there should be little to no impact. For residents whose water use is sub-metered and rebilled by their landlord, the amounts of water and sewer bills will fluctuate based on the resident’s water use rather than seasonal changes in rates.

Would the proposed uniform water rate increase OWASA’s revenues?

No. The proposed uniform rate was designed to generate the same revenue as the present seasonal rates for MFMM customers.

Background information about OWASA bills

OWASA has three kinds of rates for drinking water service:

  • Increasing block conservation rates for individually-metered residences. Under this structure, water rates increase as the volume of water used increases.
  • Seasonal rates, which vary by time of year as noted above. Seasonal rates now apply to non-residential and MFMM customers.
  • Irrigation rates, which apply to meters that serve only irrigation systems.

OWASA’s sewer rate per 1,000 gallons does not vary by time of year. OWASA’s bills also include fixed monthly water and sewer service charges based on the size of the meter serving a given customer.

OWASA’s website includes a summary and details of water, sewer and reclaimed water rates.

For more information:

Stephen Winters, CPA, Director of Finance and Customer Service, 919-537-4230 or swinters@owasa.org

Letter from OWASA Chair John Young to Mayors Hemminger and Lavelle and Chair McKee regarding proposed changes in MFMM rates

Notice of public hearing