Last modified on February 8, 2023 at 6:02 pm

2022 Water Rate Increase

The Water Board, which manages the Elkins water system, recommended a 32-percent rate increase for all customers. This recommendation was considered by the Elkins Common Council, which is responsible for setting water rates, and went into effect on September 15. A second increase of 3 percent has been recommended for the summer of 2023.

After both increases, accounts using the average residential amount of water (3,400 gallons per month) would see an increase of $15.20 per month, or about 50 cents a day.

Elkins is not the only city raising rates, and many area utilities are seeing increases of a similar magnitude, including Fairmont, which raised water rates 34 percent this summer.

Why and How?

Why is the Rate Needed?

The last rate increase was in 2017, when the new plant went into operation. That rate is no longer sufficient, and the Water Fund is nearing insolvency. Soon, the Water Fund will not be able to make payroll, pay vendors, or cover bond payments.

New/increased costs include:

  • Extreme inflationary effect on all categories of supplies and materials (as much as 500 percent)
  • Purchase of essential equipment, including two new work trucks
  • Technology upgrades to improve operations and security
  • Wage increases needed to better retain system personnel
  • Higher than expected power costs for new plant
  • Implementation of a mandatory statutory requirement to set aside approximately $270,000 a year to address future extraordinary expenses (such as the eventual $1 million cost of replacing the plant’s membrane filters, which will reach end-of-life in the mid-2020s)
How Was the Proposed Rate Determined?

The Water Board worked with Michael Griffith, of Griffith & Associates, PLLC, to analyze the last three years of actual costs, the ongoing effects of inflation, the condition of rolling stock and other essential equipment, and vendor price projections. The board also worked with Robert Rodecker, an attorney with Kay, Casto & Chaney PLLC to advise on the legal process.

Can We Make Do With a Smaller Rate Increase?

The city’s water rates are based upon the actual cost of providing the service.

“In my entire career, I’ve never seen such extreme inflationary impacts on water utilities,” Griffith told the Water Board. “We do work in 45 counties, and everyone is dealing with similar issues. Costs for many crucial supplies have at least doubled, and I don’t see that situation improving anytime soon.”

The analysis performed by Griffith & Associates found that the current and proposed new expenditures are “typical and necessary”; Mr. Griffith informed the Water Board that there is no way for the utility to continue meeting its obligations without a rate increase of this size.

Monthly Bills & Rates

How would my monthly bill change?

The calculation of each customer’s monthly bill depends on both meter size and number of gallons used. All customers are charged for either 2,000 gallons or actual usage, whichever is higher. The minimum charge for 2,000 gallons varies according to meter size.

Out of the water system’s approximately 4,200 customer accounts, more than 3,600 are on a 5/8” meter, including almost all residential customers. The following examples, as well as the more extensive table at the bottom of this page, apply to customers on a 5/8” meter. The row in bold blue font below shows how the proposed rate increase would affect a bill based on monthly usage of 3,400 gallons, the residential average in West Virginia. An account using 3,400 gallons a month would see an increase of $15.20 per month, or about 50 cents a day. (Keep in mind that an Elkins utility bill includes charges not only for water but also sewer, garbage, and the Fire & Rescue Service Fee. Only the charge for water would be affected by this rate increase.)

Gallons Current Step 1 Increase  Inc. ($)  Inc. (%) Step 2 Increase  Inc. ($)  Inc. (%)
2,000 $30.50 $40.30 $9.80 32% $41.50 $1.20 3%
3,000 $39.00 $51.55 $12.55 32% $53.00 $1.45 3%
3,400 $42.40 $56.05 $13.65 32% $57.60 $1.55 3%
4,000 $47.50 $62.80 $15.30 32% $64.50 $1.70 3%
5,000 $56.00 $74.05 $18.05 32% $76.00 $1.95 3%
When would this rate increase be reflected on my bill?

If approved by council on September 15, it would apply to the billing period September 15-October 15. The increase would be reflected on bills mailed October 31 and due in mid- November.

Will this rate increase pay for systematic replacement of the city’s failing water lines?

Although the new rate will fund ongoing repairs to the city’s aging water lines, it will not be sufficient to pay for systematic replacement of water pipes citywide. Such a project would require a second crew of workers or contractors, as well as a large inventory of pipes, valves, and related parts and equipment. Engineers retained by the city have estimated that the systematic replacement of water lines citywide would cost tens of millions of dollars and take the better part of a decade. City and board staff are researching other funding options for the initial phase of this work.

Can’t we move money from elsewhere in the city budget to cover these payments?

Elkins is legally prohibited from transferring money from other city funds to cover the costs of its utilities, including its water utilities. As a result, increases in costs for the water system must be met by increased rates.

How can we avoid such a large increase in the future?

To avoid such large increases in the future, the Elkins Water Board has adopted a policy of reviewing rates and recommending smaller increases on a more frequent basis, as needed. The board plans to perform these reviews every two years.

Why didn’t the Water Board review rates more frequently in the past?

The Water Board, an independent governing body that supervises the Elkins water system, was created in 2021. To evaluate the financial health of the water system, the board retained the services of Griffith & Associates, and it was determined that this rate increase was necessary.

Effect of Proposed Increase on Sample Billing Levels 

If you are viewing this page on a phone or tablet, we recommend downloading the below table as a PDF by clicking here.

Gallons Current Step 1 Increase  Inc. ($)  Inc. (%) Step 2 Increase[1]  Inc. ($)  Inc. (%)
1,000[2] $30.50 $40.30 $9.80 32% $41.50 $1.20 3%
2,000 $30.50 $40.30 $9.80 32% $41.50 $1.20 3%
3,000 $39.00 $51.55 $12.55 32% $53.00 $1.45 3%
3,400 $42.40 $56.05 $13.65 32% $57.60 $1.55 3%
4,000 $47.50 $62.80 $15.30 32% $64.50 $1.70 3%
5,000 $56.00 $74.05 $18.05 32% $76.00 $1.95 3%
6,000 $63.06 $83.40 $20.34 32% $85.60 $2.20 3%
7,000 $70.12 $92.75 $22.63 32% $95.20 $2.45 3%
8,000 $77.18 $102.10 $24.92 32% $104.80 $2.70 3%
9,000 $84.24 $111.45 $27.21 32% $114.40 $2.95 3%
10,000 $91.30 $120.80 $29.50 32% $124.00 $3.20 3%
15,000 $117.40 $155.30 $37.90 32% $159.50 $4.20 3%
20,000 $143.50 $189.80 $46.30 32% $195.00 $5.20 3%
25,000 $169.60 $224.30 $54.70 32% $230.50 $6.20 3%
50,000 $300.10 $396.80 $96.70 32% $408.00 $11.20 3%
100,000 $561.10 $741.80 $180.70 32% $763.00 $21.20 3%
250,000 $1,344.10 $1,776.80 $432.70 32% $1,828.00 $51.20 3%
500,000 $2,649.10 $3,501.80 $852.70 32% $3,603.00 $101.20 3%
6,056,000[3] $29,898.47 $39,061.20 $9,162.73 31% $39,424.56 $363.36 1%


[1] Step 1 is proposed starting September 15, 2022. Step 2 is proposed starting summer 2023.

[2] Customers are charged for a minimum of 2,000 gallons or actual usage, whichever is higher. A customer using only 1,000 gallons would pay the same amount as a customer using 2,000 gallons.

[3] The average monthly usage by resale customers is 6,056,000.

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