Lake Wylie residents aren’t the only ones looking at increasing water and sewer rates.
Carolina Water Service recently applied for a rate increase, a decision for the South Carolina Public Service Commission. While Lake Wylie residents make up the bulk of impacted customers in York County, they aren’t alone.
Jeannie Robbins lives in the Foxwood neighborhood of unincorporated Fort Mill. She, too, got a letter from Carolina Water parent company Utilities Inc., stating an increase could be coming. Robbins quickly drafted and sent a letter to the state Office of Regulatory Staff asking for relief.
“I am, to say the least, flabbergasted,” Robbins wrote. “How much money are these people allowed to suck out of us as a community before someone will take pity and help us?”
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She disputes claims in the letter she received, that the increases are needed to offset system improvements. The company cites more than $11 million in improvements the past two-and-a-half years.
Regardless of how that case plays out, plenty of non-Carolina Water Service customers are seeing the same spikes. At its most recent meeting Nov. 20, York County Council unanimously passed the second of three readings needed to change its water and sewer rates. A study was performed, which determined costs would need to increase. One more approval by council and increases will be consistent for the next several years.
Both the base water and per gallon costs would go up almost 9 percent next year. Steady increases are projected through 2025, when costs will be up about 27 percent from the 2017 rates. Changes include residential, commercial and wholesale customers.
Similar increases impact sewer costs. Base and per gallon prices would be up 13 percent next year, projected to increase about 36 percent through 2025.
Fort Mill raised its water and sewer rates 5 percent starting in October. Water revenue is projected to increase by 14 percent and sewer by 25 percent in the new fiscal year. Meaning Tega Cay will have to raise rates, too.
Water and sewer systems in the county are connected. Rock Hill draws water, then sells it to York County, Fort Mill, Catawba Indian Nation and private suppliers along with its own customers. York County then sells to York and Carolina Water Service. Fort Mill sells to Tega Cay. Wastewater follows similar paths back through the system. Some of those sales pass costs straight through to end customers, others involve markups.
Rock Hill charges twice the water rate for its customers outside city limits than for customers within them. Fort Mill does the same for outside versus within its town limits.