Customers expected to voice frustrations over surcharge at water district meeting

Daniel Gutierrez

Customers expected to voice frustrations over surcharge at water district meeting

CREATED Jun. 4, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Some small business owners are getting ready to voice their opinions about the new infrastructure surcharge being tacked onto their water bill.

They're expected to talk during the public comment portion of the Las Vegas Valley Water District's 9 a.m. meeting on Tuesday at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

Small business owner Janine Meredith is just one of many who have emailed Contact 13.

"I couldn't believe my eyes quite honestly," said Janine Meredith who was shocked by the latest water bill for her North Las Vegas business.

"I received my bill last week, opened it up and got a 300% increase," said Janine.

She and her husband own Arizona Falls where they make decorative artificial rock and concrete counter tops.

Janine says their business doesn't really use that much water. But their bill is going up nonetheless.

The increase is due to a new infrastructure surcharge from the Southern Nevada Water Authority. It helps pay to get water out of Lake Mead and into the Valley.

The problem is the surcharge isn't based on water usage but on the size of a customer's meter. The bigger the meter, the more you're going to pay.

"It has to be proportional to what you're consuming and what your business is doing," said Janine.

Janine's business has two water meters. The first is a three quarter inch meter and that only comes with a $19 charge. But the other meter is six inches and for that Janine has to shell out an extra $250 a month.

"I would have no problem paying if I was actually consuming it, but this is for a secondary line for a fire sprinkler system," said Janine.

That means there's no water actually passing through the meter, it's only there for emergencies.

"It's going to end up shutting my down if I have to pay an extra $3,000 a year," explained Janine.

She emailed Contact 13 in search of answers. We weren't the only ones hearing from upset customers.

"It's not unusual that I get a call where the average bill used to be $80 and it went to $400. Those are the sort of things I'm hearing. Just horror stories that individuals are saying will put them out of business," said Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak.

Sisolak sits on the Southern Nevada Water Authority's Board of Directors. With all the complaints he's hearing, he thinks something has got to give.

"I think there's a realistic change that we'll have to make some type of adjustment. Now is it going to go away? Of course not. But could it be minimized? Maybe," said Sisolak.

He urges people to attend the meeting.

"I can guarantee you there will no change if people don't speak up. That's what got us into this position. People didn't speak up and we didn't realize the impact it was going to have," said Sisolak.

Watch Action News throughout the day on Tuesday as we bring you developments from that meeting. If you're frustrated with this new fee send an email to 13investigates@ktnv.com. Be sure to include your phone number.

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