COUNTY NEWS RELEASE
The public hearings for water rate changes have been postponed by a month. The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is proposing water rate adjustments spanning the next four years. Two public hearings for adjustments to the existing tiered water rates are planned.
The first public hearing has been moved to the September 21 Board of Public Utilities (BPU) meeting on Zoom. If the BPU approves the proposed rate ordinance, a second hearing will occur on October 18 at the Los Alamos County Council meeting. The rates must be adopted by the County Council before they can be put into place.
The proposed adjustments cover increases in DPU’s cost to provide water service in the county. DPU’s expenses are incurred in the production of potable water as well as the subsequent bulk purchase and distribution of it to customers. Rate increases will allow the DPU to generate revenues needed for current operations and to build cash reserves necessary for future infrastructure needs.
DPU’s water rates are structured as seasonal tiers. In the peak season of May through September, higher rates are charged to residential accounts for water use greater than 9,000 gallons, and again for water use in excess of 15,000 gallons. The tiered rates allow the DPU and its customers to benefit from low interest loans and grant programs which require that conservation efforts are encouraged through conservation plans and tiered rate structures.
In Los Alamos, residential water consumption for homes with individual water meters increases by about 76% on average during peak months due to seasonal water use. Even with that increased consumption, less than a fifth of DPU’s customers reach the third tier of 15,000 gallons in a month. Water consumption for residents in multifamily homes with shared meters, such as apartments, tends to stay relatively flat since these homes typically don’t have outdoor watering spaces. As such, the proposed adjustments eliminate peak season differences in the tiers for multifamily accounts.
The residential tiers support BPU’s long-term conservation goal of reducing potable water use by 12% per capita per day by 2030 using 2020 data as a baseline.
The September 21 public hearing will be conducted viz Zoom at 5:30 p.m. If the BPU approves the ordinance, the second public hearing will be held in Council Chambers at the Municipal Building during the October 18 County Council meeting. The public may access both meetings via Zoom using the following link: https://ladpu.com/ratehearing .
For DPU customers who are on fixed incomes, DPU has a Utility Assistance Program for qualifying customers. Information can be found at https://ladpu.com/assist or by calling the Customer Care Center at 505 662 8333. Other organizations offering utility assistance programs in Los Alamos are: LA Cares (505 661 8105), Self Help, Inc. (505 662 4666) and the State of New Mexico with its Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) (505 753 2271).
More information on the rate adjustments, including the ordinance and Frequently Asked Questions, can be found at https://ladpu.com/rates under the folder Proposed & Pending Rate Changes.