Des Moines water customers will see a 5% hike in their water rates beginning April 1, 2021. 

The increase was approved Tuesday by the Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees as part of a recommendation by consultant Raftelis to increase rates to better recoup the cost of providing service. 

The increase means customers inside the city of Des Moines will pay $5.19 per 1,000 gallons of water used, up from the current rate of $4.94, Water Works CEO and General Manager Ted Corrigan said. 

The board also approved rate increases for its other customers in communities like Pleasant Hill, Windsor Heights, Runnells, Alleman and Cumming, as well as rural areas of Polk and Warren counties. Those customers fall under the full service customer class, which will receive increases between 5-7%. 

Rate increases were also approved for customers in Urbandale, Clive, West Des Moines, Ankeny, Waukee, Norwalk, Bondurant and two rural water systems that are part of the wholesale purchased capacity customer class. They will see an increase of 15%. Johnston, the sole member of the wholesale with storage customer group, will see an increase of 3%. 

The board was informed that West Des Moines sent a letter expressing concern about the  methodology used to determine cost of service and reserving its rights to appeal should the proposed rates be approved.

Board Chair Diane Munns said the board should move forward with approval of the rate increase and deal with issues raised by West Des Moines at a later time.

The issue of cross-subsidization, or one customer paying for service to another customer, was raised by board member Joel Aschbrenner, who said, “it’s important to remember we have a contractual obligation to avoid cross subsidization and that’s a driving factor in our decision here.”

Corrigan said concerns about cross subsidization were “at the heart,” of Raftelis’ recommendation.

“They believed some of what we were doing was allowing cross-subsidization to take place between customer classes and recommended changes that would help eliminate that,” he said.

“We’re making a first step, we’re moving forward on rethinking the way we determine rates,” board member Graham Gillette said. “The hiring of Raftelis and the thoughtful process they’ve gone through with our staff to think about this, in very broad terms, as a ratepayer and a board member it gives me a lot of comfort.”