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East Valley residents may get lower water rates

by Christy Chalmers

Growth in part of the Carson Valley could mean lower water rates for nearly 900 East Valley Water System customers.

Douglas County commissioners will consider lowering the rates Thursday. If approved, residential customers would see a 9 percent drop, business rates would decrease by 5 percent and irrigation customers would get a 33 percent drop.

Utility Engineering Manager Carl Ruschmeyer said the decreases are a result of higher-than-expected growth in the area.

“Growth brings in customers, and rates are coming down as a result,” he said. “If we have the same kind of growth, and we’re pretty confident we’re going to see good growth, there’s a chance the rates could come down again in the future.”

The East Valley system serves 787 houses, 64 businesses and 33 irrigation customers. Their rates vary according to the size of the pipes that deliver their water, but most residential customers use a three-quarter or five-eighth-inch pipe and pay a basic rate of $15.55 per month.

That would decrease to $13.47 a month if the new rates are implemented. Customers using 5,000 to 10,000 gallons a month would see a drop from $20.05 to $17.74. The cost for 10,000 gallons a month or more would drop to $23.10 from $25.71.

The rate decrease also means good news for the water system’s long-term financial health. County administrators have tried to make the system self-sufficient, and Ruschmeyer said the system is close.

“We’re doing a good job of getting there,” he said. “It’s really working out well for us. We’re really heading in the right direction.”

If approved, the decrease would take effect June 1 and remain in effect for two years. The county reviews the rates every two years.

The rates will be discussed during a hearing at Thursday’s county commission meeting. The board meets at 1 p.m. in the old courthouse, 1616 Eighth St., Minden.