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Published: Thursday, December 12, 2019 @ 1:00 AM
CENTERVILLE — Montgomery County water customers who’ve noticed a bump in their bills are seeing the results of a rate increase that will pay for replacing aging infrastructure — and may also be seeing the cost of using more water during a dry summer and fall.
County officials say the higher bills aren’t an error in billing. There was a 5.6 percent rate increase instituted at the beginning of last year.
“A variety of factors can have an impact on your water bill, such as a longer billing cycles or increased irrigation during the summertime,” said county spokeswoman Brianna Wooten.
Some residents in Centerville and Washington Twp. said they’d noticed the change. Scott McDowell said this week his bill was higher than it usually is this time of year. “This bill was more than $200 more than any bill in the past three years,” he said Wednesday.
“A dollar or two is not that big of a deal, because everything goes up,” Niki Jones said. “I just recently got my water bill and it went up about $35 from the last three months and that I think, is a lot for that (billing) period.”
“Customer bills may vary for a variety of reasons, including a longer billing cycle during some quarters, which happened recently with some customers, adding approximately one week more to their typical billing cycle, as well as seasonal variations,” she said. “For example, we had a very dry summer and many customers used more water for irrigation than they have in the past six to seven years. Because we bill quarterly, many customers could also see this increased irrigation on their fall billing cycle.”
The Montgomery County system provides drinking water and fire prevention for about 250,000 residents and businesses. Most customers are in Centerville, Harrison Twp., Kettering, Miami Twp., Riverside, Trotwood and Washington Twp.
Before 2018, the county has had an average rate increase of 1.25 percent per year, which is a lower increase than the state average of 4 percent per year.
The county announced in November 2017 that the combined water and sewer rate would go up by about about 14 percent in 2018.
Rates were scheduled to jump another 5.6 percent on average starting this year and each following year through 2022.
This means the average residential customer in the county will end up paying about $8 a month, or $24 more in their quarterly bill, according to county estimates.
Officials estimate about $750 million generated from the rate increase will be spent over the next 20 years to maintain and replace aging portions of that infrastructure.
“If you have a very high water bill but none of these other factors explain your increased water usage, you may have a plumbing problem or water leak that needs to be addressed by a professional plumber,” Wooten said.