By Sheryl Stephens | Draper Aden Associates
There are more than 250 local government providers of water and wastewater services in Virginia, including many counties. With this wide array of providers serving large, small, urban, and rural communities, it can be difficult for those providers to analyze broad statewide trends concerning water and wastewater rates. Yet, understanding these trends is critical when utilities are comparing their rates to others across the state and it can be essential when considering rate increases.
To provide this data and additional insights, Draper Aden Associates has released the 2017 edition of the Virginia Water and Wastewater Rate Report. The firm collaborated with the Virginia Association of Counties to conduct the survey and distribute the results in the report.
The two most significant findings from the 2017 survey are about increasing rates – rates are continuing to rise and utilities are increasing rates on a frequent basis. According to the results of this year’s survey, the combined average monthly residential water and wastewater rate increased 3.6 percent from 2016. Over the past 10 years, the combined average monthly water rate and wastewater rate increased by 60.3 percent.
It is not just that water and wastewater rates are rising, the frequency at which rates are adjusted is increasing as well. In 2017, 55 percent of respondents reported a rate increase during the year; an additional 24 percent had increased rates in 2016 or 2015.
There are three primary reasons for the rise in rates and frequency of increases, including the higher costs to operate and maintain water and wastewater systems, significant pressure these systems face to cover their expenses, and the decline in water consumption. Water and wastewater providers must face these challenges and will likely need to continue increasing rates in the coming years to address them.
When surveyed on the top concerns facing water and wastewater providers, respondents shared many issues, such as aging infrastructure and long-term financial stability. A complete ranking of the top concerns is available in the report.
The 29th Annual Virginia Water and Wastewater Rate Report was produced by Draper Aden Associates, an engineering, surveying, and environmental services firm with offices in Virginia and North Carolina. Draper Aden collaborated with leading trade associations that support municipalities and utilities, including the Virginia Association of Counties. The report and an interactive Rates Dashboard can be accessed online at www.daa.com/resources.
*Sheryl Stephens is a Senior Community Resource Specialist in the Site Development and Infrastructure Division of Draper Aden Associates, an engineering, surveying, and environmental services firm in the Mid-Atlantic. Sheryl is the primary author of the annual Virginia Water and Wastewater Rate Report. She can be contacted at email@example.com.