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Water Rates FAQ

Click on a topic below to view the answers.

Why are periodic rate increases necessary?

The Prince William County Service Authority’s (Service Authority) goal is to set fair and equitable rates and fees while doing its part to provide clean safe drinking water to its customers and protect the environment. A key element of providing clean drinking water and protecting the environment is ensuring that the Service Authority’s infrastructure is maintained and in good working condition. This requires a significant capital investment every year.

The Service Authority periodically recommends changes to rates to ensure we invest in our system in order to properly maintain our infrastructure, meet environmental regulations and continue to deliver the quality and reliability our customers expect from us.

 

How does the Service Authority set rates?

The Service Authority sets rates based on the actual cost of service as it does not make a profit. An independent financial consultant periodically conducts a rate study for the Service Authority and recommends rate adjustments. Our Board of Directors approved the current rates and fees effective January 1, 2020. Our rate-setting philosophy is governed by the following principles:

  • Cost of Service: Our rates must generate the revenue required to invest in and operate the system, perform needed repairs and replace our existing infrastructure. Customers pay the cost of providing service to their home or business.
  • Equity in Rates: Rates provide equity among all customers, so that the rates for each customer class are fair and reflect the cost of serving that customer class.
  • Simple to Understand: Rates should be easy to understand and calculate.
  • Stability: Rates should provide a stable revenue stream from year to year in order to ensure the reliable operation of the system.
  • Growth Pays for Growth: Revenue requirements for system operation and system expansion are developed separately. The cost of growth (treatment capacity, storage, etc.) is paid by new development while the cost of operations and capital replacements is paid by existing customers.
  • Minimize “Rate Shock”: Rates should be adjusted in modest amounts annually to ease the impact on customers.
  • Maintain Credit Ratings: Rates are set to maintain our strong credit ratings, which represent our ability to meet our obligations, in good times and bad, and lower our cost to borrow funds for large capital projects.

 

Does the Service Authority receive tax dollars from Prince William County?

No, the Service Authority does not receive any tax dollars from the County.

Why do you set your rates for three years at a time?

Setting rates for three years at a time allows rate increases to be phased in over time and avoid large rate increases in a single year that would burden our customers.

What is the typical residential bill?

A typical residential customer uses approximately 5,000 gallons of water monthly, which results in the following monthly water and sewer bill.

To review the rates for 2021, click here.

What are other local jurisdictions charging for water and sewer service?

In comparison with other local jurisdictions, the Service Authority’s rates remain competitive.

Why are some other jurisdictions able to charge lower rates for water and sewer service?

Each water and sewer utility sets its rates based on its own priorities, operating environment and capital needs. Some jurisdictions defer rate increases until it is absolutely necessary and some may delay the replacement of aging infrastructure.

The Service Authority is primarily a retail service provider and purchases most of its water from advanced water treatment plants owned by Fairfax Water. The Service Authority also participates in the Upper Occoquan Service Authority, which is one of the most advanced and costly water reclamation facilities in the country. Both of these factors impact the Service Authority’s cost of service and its rates.

The Service Authority is careful to ensure its rates are competitive with surrounding jurisdictions while making the investments necessary to provide safe, reliable water service to our customers and returning clean water to the environment.

What is considered an affordable water and sewer bill?

The Environmental Protection Agency’s affordability guideline for water and sewer service is 4.0% of median household income. Based on typical consumption of 5,000 gallons per month for a single family residential customer, the Service Authority’s monthly water and sewer bills for 2020 through 2022 are less than 1.0% of median household income.

Where can I get additional information about rates and fees?

Additional details and answers to questions can be provided by the Service Authority at 4 County Complex Court, Woodbridge, VA 22192, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., telephone (703) 335-7910 or email finance@pwcsa.org.

Customers can access additional information about the Services Authority’s rates, fees, policies and procedures by clicking here to access our Customer Handbook. 

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