People in Bismarck May See Drastic Rate Changes in Their Water Bills this Summer

The hot topic on social media in Bismarck today: People may be seeing an increase in their water bills.

Exactly 7,666 homeowners received letters from Public Works this week outlining the changes. But it won’t hit everyone.

While some people may be seeing a spike, others will actually see a decrease. It all depends on the amount of water you use.

The new rates have already been in effect since February, but you may not have noticed because water use is at a low in the winter.

Bismarck’s Director of Utility Operations says they sent the letters now to prepare people for when water use peaks in the coming months.

Director of Utility Operations Michelle Klose explains, “We sent out letters to our residents that got quite a bit of reaction. But the letter was actually trying to open up a dialogue on summer watering use, because we know the summer watering use rates were actually quite a bit higher than they had been in the past.”

Klose says in order to keep the city’s infrastructure running and able to distribute enough water for everyone, they needed a new approach. They studied Bismarck’s water usage for a year.

Klose adds, “We really had to look at those residents, those users that were putting more demand on the system. We actually have to provide all the infrastructure: the treatment plant as well as the reservoir, to serve that highest water day’s usage.”

Every home that used more than 19 units of water in the month of August last year, or over 14,000 gallons of water, received a letter.

If you use between one and eight units of water per month, there will be a decrease in your water bill.
If you use more than eight units, the rate has increased.

Klose shares, “It’s those users that contribute to that highest use, that we’re actually asking to help pay for that infrastructure.”

The new rates are based on the needs of a 10,500 square foot residential lot, which is average in Bismarck.

Bismarck CNA Mike Connelly says the city did their research.

He adds, “I think they got this one right because they did a really thorough job. Anybody at the meeting, they asked questions, they wanted to know what was important to people.”

Another resident came into KX News, concerned about the more than double increase he might see.

Klose says the department chose August for dramatic effect, to warn those that use over 19 units of water a month, that if they do the same this year, it will likely, at least, double in price.

If you’re concerned about using too much water, the city has a way to track it. This website is called Water Analytics.

It can track your usage monthly, daily and even hourly. You can also set goals and get text or email alerts.

Here’s a link to the Water Analytics site: https://www.bismarcknd.gov/1699/Water-Analytics.

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