By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen

Board adopts new water and sewer rate structure, eliminates planned January increase

(Lawrenceville, Ga.) – The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, Dec. 16, adopted a water and sewer rate resolution that eliminates an increase in rates that was scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

Without this action, water rates would have increased by approximately 3.5 percent and sewer rates would have increased by about 10 percent. The new rate resolution was also approved by the Gwinnett County Water and Sewerage Authority on Monday. 

As has been the County’s practice, the newly adopted rate resolution covers several years, or the period of 2016 – 2021. Modest rate changes of approximately 1.5 percent for water and about 2 percent for sewer are planned in 2017, 2019 and 2021. 

“This plan provides an appropriate funding level for the water and sewer system’s operations and maintenance needs in the future,” said Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash. “The efforts of Water Resources Director Ron Seibenhener and his staff to control costs put us in a position where we could forego the planned increase in 2015. The district commissioners and I know that rates have risen considerably over the last few years, and we felt that we needed to give this relief to the ratepayers.”

Seibenhener cited several examples of efficiency improvements and cost reductions, including process changes at water treatment and water reclamation facilities that have reduced the use of both chemicals and power. The department has reduced water loss throughout the system with an advanced leak detection program and lowered the number of costly equipment failures with staff training focused on improving preventive maintenance. “Most importantly, we have optimized our capital program to ensure the right projects are happening at the right time in the right way,” added Seibenhener. 

Gwinnett County has also taken advantage of favorable credit ratings and low interest rates to refinance water and sewer bonds. Interest savings on long-term debt for capital projects as a result of refunding are approximately $30 million, freeing up funding for other purposes. 

Under the new resolution, basic water rates for a residential home will remain $4.85 per thousand gallons through the end of 2016. Residential water rates will rise by seven cents per thousand gallons every other year starting in 2017, topping out at $5.06 per thousand gallons in 2021. Residential sewer rates, which are $7.82 per thousand gallons today, will remain the same until the end of 2016. Then, these rates will increase in alternating years beginning in 2017. The total increase for residential sewer rates during the seven-year period will be 48 cents per thousand gallons.

For more information about future rate increases for residential, retail and wholesale accounts, visit http://www.gwinnettcounty.com.