At its regular meeting on Aug. 21, the GWSSA operating committee voted 7-3 to adopt a new rate of $5.50 per thousand gallons, which exactly matches the amount Moab City now charges for commercial water haulers who fill their trucks at the city’s public works yard.
GWSSA’s previous rate schedule for the hydrant had a more complex formula, consisting of a $24.50 minimum hookup charge, followed by a rate of $1.20 per thousand gallons from 1,000 to 10,000, and $2.10 per thousand gallons thereafter.
Even though the per-gallon rate is now higher, smaller-amount users will actually pay less thanks to the elimination of the hookup fee, GWSSA manager Mark Sovine noted at the meeting. For example, a customer who dispenses 1,000 gallons, just as the Moab Half Marathon did this year, will now pay just $5.50 instead of $25.70.
During the discussion at the meeting, GWSSA board members noted that the amount dispensed by the agency’s hydrant each year accounts for less than 1 percent of the total amount of water used by GWSSA customers. According to figures provided by the agency, about two dozen different customers have utilized the GWSSA hydrant in the 12 months, taking out approximately 1.6 million gallons. The two largest users, a pipeline company and a construction company, combined to account for approximately 80 percent of the hydrant usage in the past year, the agency’s records indicate.
By comparison, the GWSSA’s regular customers used a total of over 270 million gallons in 2013, with around 86 percent of that usage being by residential users and 13 percent being commercial, agency officials said. Hydrant usage was around 0.6 percent of the total.
The financial impact of the rate change is likely to be minimal, board members noted at the meeting. From July 2013 until 2014, GWSSA hydrant users were charged a total of $4.736.70. The same amount of hydrant water under the newly approved rate would cost $8,756, a difference of slightly more than $4,000.
GWSSA board member Rex Tanner, who made the motion to change the rate, said that while the amount of water involved may be relatively small, changing the rate to match Moab’s would help dissuade large commercial water users from migrating to GWSSA’s hydrant and potentially overusing the facility.
On July 22, the Moab City Council, citing a significant increase in the amount of commercial haulers using its hydrant at the city’s public works yard, raised the city’s rate for commercial users to $5.50 per thousand gallons, up from $2.24. The governmental rate stayed at $2.24. Since then, the demand at the city facility has fallen considerably, The Times-Independent reported last week.
However, GWSSA board member Kyle Bailey, who also is a member of the Moab City Council, said the decline may only be temporary, and the city is still working on solutions to serve the needs of area construction companies while avoiding wasting undue amounts of culinary water.
Bailey was one of three GWSSA board members to vote against the rate change, saying it should have been even higher than the $5.50 rate that was approved. Joining Bailey in opposition were fellow GWSSA board members Gary Wilson and Dale Weiss.