The Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners discussed the possibility of a fourth tier cost bracket being added to customer payments at a meeting. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

The Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners discussed the possibility of a fourth tier cost bracket being added to customer payments at a meeting. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)

Jefferson PUD discusses fourth tier for residential billing

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Public Utility District commissioners are entertaining the idea of adding a fourth tier to the billing system because a small number of residential customers use much more water than their neighbors.

The proposal would effect the approximately 1 percent of Public Utility District (PUD) customers who use more than 30,000 gallons of water per month.

The current average for household water usage is less than 5,000 gallons per month.

That’s for more than 3,000 users.

An average of 39 users consume more than 30,000 gallons per month. Of those, the average use is 48,672 gallons per month, 10.8 times the average of the other 99 percent, according to the PUD.

The PUD has contacted the heavy users in the past about cutting back their use or to find out if leakage was pumping up water use, but to no avail, said general manager Kevin Streett.

It isn’t known why some customers use so much water.

The proposed idea would add a fourth tier to the current three tier system, with a threshold of 30,000 gallons per month.

The current cost difference between tier 2 (5,001 to 10,000 gallons) and tier three (greater than 10,000 gallons) is 14 cents per 100 gallons, from 40 cents to 54 cents.

The PUD wants to follow that same difference and set the cost of 100 gallons for the fourth tier at 68 cents after the users meet the 30,000 threshold.

This would add $12,000 in revenue to the PUD but would raise the cost to the average large user only $26 more a year, according to the PUD.

The difference won’t be enough to deter usage, according to PUD.

Heavy water users can cause a strain on water sources, which can effect their fellow neighbors and other users of the same water source, according to PUD.

Water sources are not threatened at this point, however.

“This is a precautionary measure. We’re not in imminent danger at this point,” said Jeff Randall, commission president.

“We’re not in emergency crisis.”

The 30,000 gallon threshold was determined by the PUD to primarily affect those consistently using more than that amount, and to least affect those who use that much infrequently.

Some customers use from 70,000 to 100,000 gallons a month, said Jean Hall, customer service manager,

The commissioners tasked the staff of the PUD to find more information as to the exact locations the heavy users are, what the other impacts of the change could be and how Kitsap County PUD utilizes their tier system in the event of extreme heavy users. A permanent change will be voted on at a later date.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5 or at [email protected].

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