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Virginia American Water Rates Rise, But Bills Fall in Near Future

Virginia American Water has raised water fees for Alexandrians by 6.7 percent, effective immediately. However, customers will see bill refunds in near future.

Alexandrians will see lower water bills in the near future due to recently approved rate changes.

Virginia American Water announced Monday that the rate is going up by 6.7 percent, effective immediately.

However, the rate change is less than the 12.2 percent rate hike initially proposed by Virginia American Water to the Virginia State Corporation Commission.

With the new 6.7 percent rate change, based on average quarterly usage estimated at about 14,400 gallons, Alexandrians will see an increase of $3.21 per quarter on their bills.

The higher cost of water comes on the heels of higher bills seen by residents from Alexandria Renew Enterprises, which provides wastewater treatment services.

Alexandria City Council discussed the issue in June, saying an increase is acceptable but not as large as requested. Ultimately though, the decision lies in the hands of the state corporation commission, or SCC.

As permitted by the SCC, Virginia American Water July 12 put into effect the 12.2 percent increase that it had proposed. However, because the rate was ultimately approved at a 6.7 percent raise, Virginia American Water will refund the difference in the rate charged since July 12 plus interest as a credit on customers’ upcoming bills.

The water company pressed for the rate increase because of $12.8 million in infrastructure improvements that it has made since 2010.

The company in August 2011 increased Alexandrians’ bills by about $4.44 per quarter after a rate hike, saying it had made about $36 million in upgrades since 2008.

“We appreciate the transparent and thorough SCC review process and the opportunity for the public to provide input. We are committed to investing in our infrastructure and treatment plants to maintain the capacity and reliability of our treatment and distribution facilities, and to serve our residential, business and industrial customers,” said Virginia American Water President William Walsh in a statement. "Even with the rate increase approved by the SCC, our tap water costs about a penny a gallon—a remarkable value compared to many other utilities today.”

In Alexandria, water still costs less than a penny a gallon, according to a Virginia American Water spokeswoman.

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