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New Water Rates, Restrictions Proposed for Georgetown
New water rates, tighter watering restrictions, and new enforcement if you break the rules -- all of that could be on the way to Georgetown under a new plan leaders have proposed after a city review found measures taken in the last five years aren't making a dent in consumption.
A green lawn is a luxury for Georgetown resident Laura Rowe. "We just let it go because of the drought," said Rowe.
The problem? City officials say not enough other residents are following her lead.
"Our use is probably 15 percent higher than it should be," said Glenn Dishong, the city's Utility Director.
While Dishong says the city isn't in immediate danger, long-term something has to change. The proposed plan to get Georgetown residents to reduce their use has three elements: first, new water rates, cutting back from five tiers to three, with some of the rates higher.
"There has to be some pressure to give people the right signal that it's time to be more efficient," said Dishong.
When asked if the new rates were designed to make money, Dishong replied, "They're designed to reduce use, though it's one possible outcome if we don't get the conservation that we need, it will create more money."
An extra $4.6 million, according to documents posted on the city's website, if residents keep using water at 2011 levels. The documents state that money would go toward water infrastructure and conservation programs. However, users in the lowest tier, which Dishong says tops out just under 13,000 gallons per month, will actually pay less. He says the average customer uses around 14,000 gallons per month.
The new plan also limits watering to three days per week.
"If they were walking around writing tickets that might have an effect," said Rowe, of the new watering restrictions.
That job, under the plan, would go to administrative staff instead of police, which Dishong says will be more efficient than the court system and let officers focus on other issues.
The proposed rules would first need approval by Georgetown City Council, who Dishong says should get their first reading in late February, with possible approval by early March.
By Adam Bennett