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Water bill could go up in July

LAWRENCEVILLE - Water and sewer rates could go up later this year, officials said Thursday.

A special-called meeting of the Water and Sewerage Authority was called for Monday, so the board can consider a new rate structure for the county's 235,000 water customers.

The proposal would only increase a base rate for water customers by 20 cents a month, beginning in July, but it would add a base rate for sewer service for the first time. The base rate would be $5 a month, said Water Resources Deputy Director Peter Frank.

"It's related to the financial situation. It will help generate revenue for us," Frank said, adding that the big driver is the increasing cost of chemicals and power to treat drinking water and wastewater.

Frank said about 155,000 water customers also use the county sewer system.

If the new rates pass, Gwinnett will become the latest of jurisdictions throughout metro Atlanta to increase revenues after conservation through Georgia's drought has caused people to use less water.

The proposal does not include increases to the volumetric water and sewer rates, which were set in 2005 for rates through 2011. But it would set increases from 2012 to 2015.

Frank said the numbers proposed for 2012 through 2015 were not available Thursday.

In 2009, customers are expected to pay $3.86 per 1,000 gallons of water, plus the $7.30 base rate each month. In July, that rate would increase to $7.50. The volumetric rate will rise to $4.11 per 1,000 gallons in 2010 and $4.38 per 1,000 gallons in 2011.

Sewer volumetric rates are set at $4.91 per 1,000 gallons in 2009, $5.38 per 1,000 gallons in 2010 and $5.89 per 1,000 gallons in 2011.

The Water and Sewerage Authority will make a recommendation on the rate change Monday, and commissioners are expected to make a final decision Tuesday.