More than half of Rollingwood residents used more water in February than the previous month—a spike city staff said could be attributed to challenges faced during Texas’ historic winter storm, Uri.
In an effort to provide relief to residents and lessen the administrative burden on city staff, Rollingwood City Council met March 17 to unanimously pass a utility bill relief measure for February.
The decision comes following a recommendation from the Rollingwood Utility Commission, which met March 3 to discuss how to aid residents, many of whom either experienced burst pipes or dripped faucets to avoid burst pipes.
Council approved an action that would charge residential customers based on a lower tier of water usage, per the commission’s suggestion. Each customer is charged a monthly base rate for water as well as an additional charge for the level of usage, which ranges from Tier 1 and up.
Regardless of February’s usage, residential customers will be charged no higher than the Tier 2 pricing, which reflects a rate of $5 per 1,000 gallons of water.
This will not only cover Rollingwood’s cost to obtain water from the city of Austin, but it will also provide public works staff with an operational benefit, according to City Secretary Ashley Wayman.
Traditionally, the city offers bill adjustments for residents who experience a pipe leak that led to a higher water bill. However, due to the expected increase in this occurrence as a result of the storm, allocating individual bill adjustments could create an administrative challenge, City Administrator Amber Lewis said during the March 3 meeting.
Notably, the relief program will not apply to the city’s commercial customers, who are charged based on a fixed rate rather than multiple tiers. However, those entities will still be able to seek the traditional bill adjustments if they are able to provide proof of a burst pipe or leak.
Residents will see a notice of this adjustment on their upcoming February water bill, and the city has posted an online announcement regarding the information, according to Wayman.