Rate hike proposed for Cascadia Water customers

Cascadia Water notified customers that increased rates will reflect additional revenue of $1,788,793

Customers who get their H20 from Cascadia Water may soon see a large increase in the rates they pay.

Cascadia Water, LLC recently notified customers that increased rates will reflect additional revenue of $1,788,793, an incremental increase of 75%. If approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, the increased rates would go into effect June 1, 2024.

According to Culley Lehman, the general manager for Cascadia Water, the company serves 1,250 customers on Whidbey Island. The water systems are scattered throughout the island, as far north as Jones Road in Oak Harbor and as far south as Bailey Road in Clinton.

Lehman said in an email that the driving factor behind the large increase is the amount of capital that Cascadia Water has invested in its systems to continue producing safe, reliable drinking water. The company is working on several infrastructure projects, including installation of standby generators on most systems to minimize service disruptions due to power outages, ongoing meter replacement to allow workers to more accurately track the water that is pumped throughout the system, and other improvements for different regional water systems on the island, such as the installation of a new reservoir.

“The majority of our water systems were installed around the ‘70s, so the aging infrastructure is needing to be replaced, which is a huge cost in today’s day and age,” Lehman said. “The base rate is a set rate, but the tiered rate structure helps to promote water conservation, which helps to sustain this precious natural resource.”

Yet for ratepayers, such a big increase comes as something of a shock.

Freeland resident Josh Courteau questioned whether ratepayers would be able to afford the proposed increase when some are already struggling to stay in their homes with other rising costs.

Courteau added that the 75% increase comes on the heels of a 53% increase that was introduced by Cascadia Water at the end of 2020 and went into effect in June 2021. He can remember the days when his household’s bimonthly water bill was in the $40 range, before the 2021 increase. With the newest increase, he expects to see it somewhere well over $100.

The changes customers will see to their water bills, if approved, depends on their meter size and block size. Lehman said most customers are set to the 5/8-inch metered rate. A table of current rates and proposed rates was included in the notice to customers and can be viewed online at cascadiawater.com.

If customers are unsure which water system they fit into, they can check with Cascadia Water by calling the office at 888-235-0510, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. or sending an email to info@cascadiawater.com.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission is set to review the proposed rate increase at a public meeting scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, May 23.

To comment on Cascadia Water’s requested rate changes, use the online comment form at utc.wa.gov/consumers/submit-comment, email comments@utc.wa.gov, call 1-888-333-9882 or write to P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA, 98504-7250.