Faced with paying for a pair of million dollar upgrades to its system while also being hit with a price increase from its supplier, the Scotland County Consolidated Public Water Supply District #1 recently announced a rate hike for its nearly 1,400 customers.

Effective August 1st, the rural water district’s minimum charge, which includes the first 1,000 gallons of water, went up from $17 to $22, or an increase of 22%.

That new rate will be payable in September, and marks the first rate increase by the district since 2011.

Previously, customers had paid $11 for the second 1,000 gallons, $9 for the third 1,000 gallons, with the fourth 1,000 gallons costing $8 and each 1,000 gallons thereafter being billed at $5.

Under the new rate structure, customers will be billed $12 per 1,000 gallons of water for usage between 1,001 and 4,000 gallons; $10 per 1,000 gallons between 4,001 and 10,000 gallons; $7 per 1,000 gallons from 10,001 to 50,000 gallons; and $6 per 1,000 gallons beyond 50,001.

Thus a customer that consumes 5,000 gallons in a month would see their rate jump from $50 to $68 while consumption of 10,000 gallons in a month would see the price go up from $75 to $118.

Board members indicated that the price hike was necessitated by two voter-approved revenue bond projects to increase the districts capacity while also upgrading to an automated meter system, which combined, are expected to cost roughly $2 million dollars.

The bid process has been completed and now the district is awaiting approval from the Department of Natural Resources to begin construction.

The district will be installing a new 8-inch water main from the county line at the Iowa border, south to the north water tower. The project consists of roughly 48,000 linear feet of new water main as well as two new 300-gallon per minute (GPM) pumps. The district is also considering a new section of water main just south of the city of Memphis.

The upgrade was made necessary by increased water usage that has seen the average daily consumption exceed 400,000 gallons during the hot, summer months.

In the past five years the rural water district has seen its average water purchase go up more than 15 million gallons. The CPWSD #1 purchases its water from Rathbun Rural Water Association (RRWA). Recently it also has been forced to buy additional water from the City of Memphis to keep up with demand.

Earlier this summer RRWA announced a 7% price increase for water, a cost that also factored into the local district’s new pricing schedule.