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Port Orchard will pay more for its water

Rates set to encourage residents to conserve more.

Port Orchard Public Works is proposing new water rates based on rewarding water conservation.

The graduated scale basis rates depend on pipe size, usage or meter size. Those using 0 to 3,000 gallons would pay $15, 3,001 to 5,000 would pay 19 and higher rates would add $2 or more for each level increase.

A possible addition to this would be a reduced hook-up fee for new structures installing automatic sprinkler systems, which run at minimum $4,586 for a 3/4-inch pipe.

That addition concerned Teresa Osinski, goverment affairs director for the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County. Osinski said the cost of adding automatic sprinkler systems is much higher than the city’s incentive, and would drive up the cost of housing, driving potential buyers out of the city.

“Every time governments increase the cost of housing, it has a direct impact,” Osinski said.

She explained that 1 to 1.5 percent increasing in housing can price out 86 homebuyers from an area.

Despite the incentive, she questions whether people will use it, and worries the actual costs will fall to the homebuyers.

She did not specifically ask the council to abandon the program, but encouraged it to consider other options.

“How many folks do you think will use this program?” she asked, adding “Really, think carefully about taking this approach.”

Kitsap Street resident Gerry Harmon questioned the rate changes, noting that even though the smallest consumers have the lowest rate, they end up paying a higher per-gallon rate than any other on the scale.

“Your rate structure is not promoting conservation,” she said to the city council last week. “The little guy is paying more than anyone else.”

Councilman Rob Putaansuu pointed out that any rate changes and increases are rare in the city.

The lowest rates were an attempt to maintain similar rates as those already in place, preventing increases to the lowest users.

“It’s been nine years since we’ve increased our water rates,” he said.

The council held the item for the next meeting to gather more information on the sprinkler systems, and to hear back from the South Kitsap Fire and Rescue District.

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