WSSC Adopts New Rate Structure

Headlines ,

The WSSC Commissioners voted to adopt a new rate structure that beginning July 1, 2019 will dramatically change the way that customers are billed for future water and sewer services.  The action follows years of controversy regarding WSSC’s rate structure, consultant studies, public hearings, and legislative fights in Annapolis.

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) ruled last year that the WSSC’s longstanding 16-tier rate structure was unreasonable and charged excessive rates to high volume users in order to subsidize low volume users.  The PSC ordered the WSSC to develop a new system of reasonable rates.

WSSC considered alternate three and four bracket rate structures to simplify their rates, while attempting to obtain authority from the General Assembly to impose rates that varied by class of customer.  AOBA successfully blocked those legislative efforts out of concern that business customers could suffer even greater discrimination with classified rates.  The design of a new rate structure was difficult, as any reduction in rates for high volume users inevitably causes increases in rates for low volume users.

Documents on WSSC's website detail the options considered, the new rate structure selected, and the impact on customers at various volumes of water usage. 

The major takeaways from the adoption of Alternative 4A are:
 

  • WSSC’s rate structure for water and sewer services will go from a 16 bracket structure to a 4 bracket structure, largely reflective of residential usage.
  • Unlike the current system, which bills all usage based on the highest rate of average daily water usage, the new rate structure will have rates that apply only to the average daily water usage within that bracket. This is a major improvement that will help to avoid dramatic increases in water and sewer bills when a customer’s usage moves to the next highest bracket.
  • The four brackets and the illustrative rates are:
     

Ave. Gallons per Day        Rate per 1,000 Gallons 
 

0 – 80                               $10.66

81 – 165                           $12.25

166 – 275                         $14.86

>275                                 $18.74

 

  • The actual rates adopted for July 1, 2019 will be based on WSSC’s FY 2020 budget, and will likely be a few percentage points higher than displayed above.
  • The breakpoint for winners and losers under the new rate system will be at around 160 gallons daily usage: if you use less than 160 gallons per day you will pay more under the new rate system; if you use more than 160 gallons per day you will pay less under the new rate system.
  • The new rate structure makes no change to WSSC’s unit count method for calculating bills for multifamily buildings on a master meter.