Lincoln City Council votes to change water rate schedule

By: Bill Schammert

It's official, if Lincoln's Mayor declares an emergency water scenario, be prepared to pay more, no matter how much you water your lawn.

The city council voted unanimously Monday night to adopt a new water rate schedule during a shortage.

It's a new tiered rate policy that doesn't have a lot of people happy. Some say it's simply not fair.

“This is designed to take a sharp bite out of the family budget,” Gerald Cunning, Lincoln, said at the council meeting. “The family budget is pretty well used up.”

Others say the city isn't weighing the right factors.

“Having tiered rates, that makes sense,” David Pauley, Lincoln, said. “But nothing's been done to account for people having different size lots.

But what does it mean for you? Here's a break down.

Your water is billed in units; one unit is equal to about 750 gallons.

Last August we would've been in Phase Two of the newly approved rate structure, or a 20-percent requested reduction.

In that scenario, if a family used 17 units per month, they would be billed about $27.95 per month. Under the new rate structure, that monthly bill would increase to $37.41.

But, if the family conserves the requested 20-percent, the monthly bill under the new rate structure would be $27.99 – almost the same as last year.

It's an incentive to conserve.

“It's the outdoor use that is more discretionary,” Tom Gould said during the council meeting. Gould works with HDR Engineering who helped Public Works Department develop the new pricing strategy.

“Outdoor use is the piece we're trying to target with this pricing.”

Still, it doesn't come without a few reservations from the city council.

“I don't have a better solution, but if you wait much longer, you're going to be in a drought, and you don't even have a plan to try,” Lincoln City Councilman, Doug Emery, said.

Keep in mind, these rates are on top of possible fines you could face. If the city enters into a restricted day structure, you could still be fined anywhere from $150-to-$350 if caught watering on the wrong day.

For all the details on the new water rate schedule, please visit the Lincoln Water System's website.