Changes in works for county water bills

By Billy Corriher

Starting on January 1, Clayton County residents will see some notable changes to their water bills. Residents will see a 5 percent increase in their usage rates, but most will notice that their bill will now be the same amount every month.

The water authority's board of directors approved the increase in service rates to pay for expanding the water and sewer system and accommodating future growth, CCWA General Manager Wade Brannan said.

"You have to make sure you look far enough ahead to have what you need in the future," Brannan said.

The county is ensuring the county is up to new federal and state standards through its Water Resources Initiative 2000, a 10-year master plan for improvements and upgrades.

"Most of the improvements will be on the sewer side of our business," he said.

The water authority is planning improvements in its "big operations," Brannan said, referring to upgrading the county's water reclamation plant.

And although residents will be billed at a higher rate next year, most residents' will now be billed the same amount every month. The new billing system will be based on an average of each resident's monthly water usage.

Brannan said the system is intended to make it easier for county residents to set a monthly budget.

"There can be a dramatic increase in water usage during the summer," he said. Customers usually see their bills go up in summer months because of watering their lawns or washing their cars.

Jonesboro resident Claudia Miller said she does not water her lawn that much in the summer, but she still said it is hard to predict how much her water bill will be every month.

"I'd like (the new system) a whole lot better," she said. "It would be better than it fluctuating all the time."

The new system would also be easier for the county's growing senior citizen population, much of which relies on a fixed income, Brannan said.

All customers with a good billing history will be eligible for the new system. But customers with three consecutive late fees or one disruption of service will not receive a uniform bill each month.