Frequently asked questions about your water rates
The primary factors driving the proposed water rate increase include:
- EWEB's overall water sales have declined by about 20 percent since 2008, leaving
the utility short of recovering fixed expenses, which account for about 90 of the water utility's
- There is a continued need to replace aging infrastructure in order to reliably
deliver safe water to customers. The extensive capital required to operate a large filtration
plant and maintain about 800 miles of distribution pipes comes with high fixed costs.
Going forward, EWEB is proposing to rely less on the volume of water it sells to generate revenue, and move to a
model that has a higher basic charge. This will put EWEB's rate structure in line with the fixed-cost nature of the water
utility. Many water utilities in the Northwest and throughout the country are following a similar trend.
Conservation, or the efficient use of water, is a long-term incremental change in
habits that benefits customers in the long run. Water conservation, particularly
during the peak summer months, allows EWEB to delay costly increases in water treatment
capacity and leaves more water in the river.
Conservation efforts by EWEB customers are not the cause of water rate increases.
Over the past several years, EWEB, and most water utilities in the Pacific Northwest, have
experienced unusually cool and wet summer. These weather patterns have significantly
reduced the amount of water that is consumed by our customers, which has had a major
impact on water sales. In 2011, EWEB's water consumption was the lowest we have experienced
since 1983. Prior to 1983, you would have to go back to 1971 to find a lower
production year. The reduction in consumption due to weather patterns is much different
than conservation and using water more efficiently.
Because the costs of providing water are primarily fixed costs, or costs that do
not vary with consumption, it's not possible to avoid rate increases completely.
Good examples of fixed costs are those associated with meter reading and bill processing.
The cost incurred to read your water meter and process your bill is the same whether
you use 2,000 gallons of water or 10,000 gallons a month. Additionally, the costs
to supply EWEB customers with safe and great tasting water inevitably go up over
time, resulting in rate increases.
The Eugene Water & Electric Board's water experts can help you with a variety of
products, services and advice for managing your water consumption wisely and efficiently.
See water conservation
for tips and programs that will help you use water more efficiently.
The size of a meter determines the maximum amount of water available to a house
or business. Meters vary in size from 5/8 inch to 10 inches. Although most homes
only require a 5/8 inch meter, some properties and many businesses require greater
water availability. To provide these larger quantities requires a proportionally
larger water treatment, transmission and distribution system. The higher cost associated
with larger meters helps pays for those higher systems requirements.
Both wastewater and stormwater charges are included on your EWEB bill as a service
to the City of Eugene. The city manages those utilities and is responsible for setting
their rates. For additional information regarding wastewater and stormwater rates,
contact the City of Eugene at (541) 682-4800 or (541) 682-4900.
EWEB customers are separated into different rate classes based on how they use water.
Residential customers typically have higher summer irrigation needs, while general
service customers use more water throughout the entire year. Costs are assigned
to each customer class based on how much water they use during peak periods, as
well as on their overall level of consumption. Those differences in water use and
system requirements are reflected by the various rate increases.
If you have any additional questions about managing your water consumption,
call (541) 685-7000 and press 5, 1, 5 to speak with EWEB's Water Engineering
and Planning Department.