ordinance vote June 18
Express Staff Writer
Water rates for
Ketchum’s metered users will go up beginning for the July billing
The Ketchum City
Council voted unanimously Monday night to implement a rate hike for the
city’s metered users—about 80 percent of residents who are on the
city system. Those not on meters will also likely experience a rate
hike, but the council put off its decision on non-metered water users
until its next meeting on June 18.
increase will be on a graduated scale, which could encourage water
conservation among users, city water superintendent Steve Hansen said.
Users consuming more water will experience more of an increase than
users consuming less water.
Those using up to
5,000 gallons of water per month will experience a 4 percent increase.
Those using 300,000 gallons per month or more will experience a 23
percent increase. Percent increases between those two categories vary,
but go up as water use rises
Hansen said the
rate increase is necessary for several reasons: to help offset
increasing water department operational costs, including Idaho Power Co.’s
recent electricity rate hike; to replace old vehicles; pay for an
increase in staff, and to promote water conservation using the city’s
metered rate structure.
where water can be scarce, such as the West, water metering is the most
effective way to promote water conservation," Hansen said.
"What we’re hoping to do is get (the water user’s)
The city’s last
water rate increase came in July, 1995. The graduated increase averaged
12 percent across all water users, Hansen said.
Average water use
per person in Idaho is approximately 250 gallons per day, according to
the American Water Works Association. That number includes irrigation
water for lawns and landscaping.
If a family of
three or four is subjected to the average amount, they would consume
20,000 to 30,000 gallons per month, Hansen said.
determined that approximately 70 percent of our metered accounts will
fit into this category of water use when averaged over an entire
year," he said. "Some will use even less"
The remaining 30
percent of the city’s water users can be divided as follows: 15
percent use 30,000 to 50,000 gallons per month; 10 percent use 50,000 to
100,000 per month; and 5 percent use more than 100,000 gallons per
During peak use,
several Ketchum residential property owners use over 500,000 gallons per
month. One home on Northwood Way has used over 800,000 gallons a month
during peak use. The same property’s three-year average use is 307,000
gallons per month.
proposed an 8 percent increase for the city’s flat-rate users, council
members said they suspect the increase should be higher to better
reflect high-end water use.
"If the flat
rate at base level is way off, it’s not fair not to raise it,"
Councilman David Hutchinson said. "This flat rate is low."
Hansen said he was
not sure if Hutchinson’s hunch was correct, but agreed to try and put
a finger on how much water flat-rate users are consuming.
Hansen has also
proposed a city-wide drought response plan, which would restrict water
uses during periods of drought.
who appear to generally favor the plan, will hold a third reading of the
plan on June 18.
The plan proposes
two levels of drought response: a drought warning and drought emergency.
During a drought
warning, landscape watering would be limited to alternate days.
During a drought
emergency, use of water to clean sidewalks, driveways and porches would
be prohibited, and construction site dust abatement would not be
The two levels
would be implemented at the Mayor’s or city council’s discretion,
based on water levels in the city’s storage facilities.