Letter: Understanding Sewer Rates

Letter: Understanding Sewer Rates

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

My neighbors sometimes tell me that their monthly wastewater treatment bills seem to be taking a bigger bite out of their family budget. And they are always surprised when I answer, “No, they are not.” For the past five years, wastewater treatment charges in Alexandria have generally grown with the rate of inflation. In fact, in the past year the monthly bill has been reduced for many customers.

Your monthly wastewater treatment bill from Alexandria Renew Enterprises (formerly Alexandria Sanitation Authority) is comprised of two parts:

  • Base Charge: This fixed charge is the same for all residential customers, regardless of how much water you use. The Base Charge started in 2011 and is steady at $100.60 per year, or $8.38 per month.

  • Per-Gallon Charge: This variable charge is based on the estimated volume of dirty water that you send to Alexandria Renew for treatment. It is calculated based on indoor water use and is capped at your average monthly water usage during the winter months. Starting on Oct. 1 of this year, that charge is now $6.77 per one-thousand gallons. Since 2010, the Per-Gallon charge has grown less than 1 percent each year.

Your wastewater bill also has a flat charge per one-thousand gallons from the City of Alexandria for maintaining the sewers that connect to your homes.

So here are the facts about your AlexRenew bill: The average residential customer was paying approximately $35 per month in 2010. Today, that same customer is paying about $40 per month. That’s an annual increase of $1 per month for the last five years. I also want to mention that the $26 annual service charge was eliminated in 2013, which has offset the slight growth in the Per-Gallon charge during the past five years.

In Alexandria, your wastewater treatment charges are set by citizens just like you. The board of directors of Alexandria Renew Enterprises are volunteers who live in Alexandria and pay our Alexandria Renew Enterprises bills, too. We enjoy living in a community on the banks of the Potomac and want to keep the river clean.

Our kids take endless showers, just like yours. We try to balance the cost of a healthy, clean environment with its impact on your family’s budget. By keeping the growth of our treatment charges at or below inflation — while maintaining a flawless environmental record — I think we are doing exactly that.

John Hill

John Hill lives in the Rosemont section of Alexandria and is chairman of the board of Alexandria Renew Enterprises.