DeWitt residents to pay higher water rates, encouraged to conserve

Town of DeWitt residents will begin to see an increase in their water bill starting this month.

For those living in the southern part of DeWitt, the rate climbed 18 percent over their current payment, and for residents living in the northern part, the rate went up 28 percent. The hike, recently approved by the DeWitt Town Board, was necessary because in the past three years the Onondaga County Water Authority has raised its rates a total of 30 percent, while the town of DeWitt has kept its pricing to residents the same.

"We don't have any choice," said Supervisor Ed Michalenko. "We're in a position where we have to pass on the cost that we purchase the water for."

Historically, OCWA's rates have been cheaper than the town's other water source, the city of Syracuse, which is why the town created two retail rate structures in 1990; one for the northern part of town and one for the southern part. But since OCWA started to impose an annual 10 percent hike, the difference between the two sources is now negligible. In 2009, the last complete year of records, the town paid approximately $1.722 per 1,000 gallons from the city of Syracuse and $1.706 per 1,000 gallons from OCWA.

"So right now, we're equalizing the rates across the town ... but they are up," Michalenko said.

In an effort to promote water conservation and consequently, lower water bills, the town has been consistent about including water saving tips with each of its water reports and in monthly newsletters.

Leaky faucets are number one on the list of water concerns in homes, Michalenko said. A drop a minute can amount to 2,400 gallons over the course of a year.

"That's just one drop," Michalenko said. "On faucets and showers, install an aerator because that helps keep the water under pressure so it feels more voluminous, but it's still a water saving measure."

He also recommends taking short showers over baths. On average, 25 gallons of water is used per shower as opposed to 36 gallons per bath.

"We have a ton of water in the northeast, but clean, drinkable water is expensive and you've gotta protect it," Michalenko said.

Other water saving tips include keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator as opposed to running the water until it cools down, which wastes about a gallon. Turn off water while brushing your teeth, shaving or scraping dishes, and use a stopper or dishpan while washing dishes.

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