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Alexandria gets into water fight with Virginia American Water over rate increase

Tap water in Alexandria. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria will argue against a rate hike by Virginia American Water, even though the increase will go into effect on May 1.

The average water bill in Alexandria will go up about $94 per year, which the utility says covers infrastructure upgrades cross Virginia, including the replacement of a 3,800-foot-long water main in Alexandria that was installed in the 1950s.

Virginia American Water filed for the $14.3 million in rate increases with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) in November.

“The company is requesting this increase based on $137.6 million in infrastructure investments from May 2020 through April 2023,” Barry Suits, Virginia American Water president, said in a statement. “Through these investments we continue to upgrade our infrastructure and deliver high-quality water and wastewater service and fire protection to approximately 339,000 people in Alexandria, Dale City, Hopewell and the Northern Neck.”

Bill Eger, the city’s energy manager, said that the proposed rates in Alexandria are increasing faster than what the city wants or expects, and that before the SCC hearing the city will send out a press release detailing how residents and business owners can publicly comment.

“At that point in time the public can provide comments in order to state their case about why this rate case is important to them, including whether or not the costs that are being suggested are too much too little,” Eger told Council. “I suspect most would say it’s probably too much.”

Virginia American Water last increased rates in 2018, after proposing and implementing a $6.6 million increase in rates statewide. That rate was later reduced to just a $1.2 million increase after being litigated with the SCC, and residents and businesses were issued refunds.

Mayor Justin Wilson told Eger that he appreciates the effort to lower rates.

“We appreciate all of your work, understanding this and then fighting for our ratepayers,” Wilson told Eger. “It’s very important.”

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