Photo by David Demarest

Photo by David Demarest

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority is increasing water and sewer rates, effective July 1.

The increase will amount to about $1.88 more on the monthly water bill for customers using an average of 5,000 gallons of water consumption, and an additional $2.20 per month for sewer customers with 5,000 gallons of usage.

WASA's Board of Directors approved the increase at its May meeting due to an increase in wholesale water costs from Newton County, as well as increased costs to meet federal and state regulations and purchase supplies, said Executive Director Mike Hopkins. The Authority made a decision several years ago to follow a long-term strategy that includes regular controlled rate increases, Hopkins said, adding that the approach has allowed the Authority to avoid reactionary changes in rates that impact customers more dramatically.

"As members of the community with families to support, our employees are well aware of the financial challenges facing all of us during this tough economy," he said. "I've been proud of how committed they are to keeping costs under control to prevent the kind of rate increases other communities have experienced."

Customers are being informed early of the rate change to allow time to adjust water usage before the hot summer months when consumption typically increases, he said.

"Obviously no one likes to see rates go up, even if just slightly. While increased expenses and rising costs of providing service don't allow us to avoid reality, we remain committed to investing in our system and to finding ways to deliver quality service at a reasonable cost to our customers," Hopkins said.