In Continuing coverage: a potentially drastic change in water utility rates.
Bismarck homeowners were notified a few weeks ago that their water rates were doubling.
City Public Works has known about this change since February, after a year of working with an outside consultant to study Bismarck’s water usage.
KX News is putting you first and as public outcry on this change intensified, we wanted to know if this change was permanent.
We spoke with a Bismarck City Commissioner who voted yes on this change.
Commissioner Steve Marquardt says the rate changes are permanent. He told us, the increased rates will be used solely to improve and replace our water infrastructure, and then sustain it in the future.
Marquardt explains, “Because we do have a lot of infrastructure that either is just deteriorating because of age, you know, and how do we pay for that? There’s a lot of communities that have out of date water infrastructure, and we’re no different.”
Commissioner Marquardt says the city has some money already set aside for repairs, but they didn’t budget for the city’s growth.
We also asked the hard question: Why aren’t commercial rates affected?
We were told businesses use a steady amount of water year round, which is good for the city’s water system.
The Commissioner says it’s when homeowners hit a peak in use to water their lawns in the hotter months, that the infrastructure is really affected.
In reference to commercial accounts, Marquardt adds, “Well, they’re not peaking the system, so it’s more sustainable for the water system. We need those larger accounts to be able to use a lot of the water.”
He says for an average size house, keeping your water use at or below eight units a month, is doable. If you use eight or less a month, your bill will actually decrease.
Marquardt shares, “I’ve got a 15,000 square foot lot, but like I say, my grass isn’t as green as a lot of other peoples are. But I still water and I still mow, and I use right around that 8-9 units of water. If I want to put more water on, I can put more water on, but I have control over that, to be able to pay for that.”
Commissioner Marquardt says they were not singling out anyone in particular in the rate changes. He says the city’s study took everyone into account, including apartment complexes, multi-family homes, and businesses too.
The city has a website where you can track your water usage. Here’s a link to that Water Analytics site: https://www.bismarcknd.gov/1699/Water-Analytics.