As the ban on water use is slowly lifted, area by area, water customers are being urged to flush their system. This isn't more debate about whether the water is still safe for use, but looks forward to future grief over who will pay for all the water used to flush customer plumbing.
This article instructs water customers on flushing their system by turning on faucets and water using appliances and cycling tainted water from the system. With the exception of outdoor spigots, tainted water is being flushed into the sewer system.
Customers pay for water and sewer usage. West Virginia American Water rates allow for a minimum base charge for 1,500 gallons per month per customer. Usage over that amount is based on gallons used. Usage over the base amount is charged at the rate of $10.2911 for the first 1,000 over the base amount, up to 28,500 gallons over the base amount. Because the company has agreed to credit customers for the cost of 1,000 gallons for flushing their system, we can assume that the cost of water necessary for flushing comes at a price of $10.2911 per customer.
At this time, West Virginia American Water reported it is prepared to offer a credit of 1,000 gallons of water to its residential customers.
“That’s not a number we just pulled out of the air,” McIntyre said, explaining that the credit should cover about 10 times the water amount necessary for customers to complete a proper flushing of their water tanks.
But that's not the real problem here. All that flushing water comes at a cost. 1000 gallons per customer @ $10.2911 x 300,000 customers = $3,087,330 worth of water that WV American Water will credit on customer bills this month.
Do you think that WV American Water is just going to make that cost disappear? Of course not. It all has to be accounted for on the company's books. The company could write it off as some sort of donation or goodwill, but that's unlikely. Other options include deferring it in a special holding account to be dealt with later. This would create a deferred regulatory asset. This simply means the company would defer recovery of this amount until a later date. The company will begin accruing interest on the deferral immediately. Options for recovery would be through a claim against Freedom Industries, or a request to the WV Public Service Commission to recover it from ratepayers at a later date. The easiest course for the company is to recover it through its West Virginia regulated rates.
So, not only will you most likely end up paying for your 1,000 gallons of flushing water, you'll end up owing interest on it at some future time when the company and the WV PSC think you've forgotten all about the incident and they can take care of this business without your notice.
Ditto on your sewage rates for disposing of the excess water.