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Do you pay more for water than your neighbor? Here's why
Do all Lakehaven Utility District customers pay the same price for water? Yes and no.
Joe Stumbo, a resident of unincorporated King County, contacted The Mirror out of frustration over the difference in water bills between his own residence and a rental house.
Lakehaven customers pay for water by the cubic foot. According to Stumbo's recent bimonthly billing statement, his rental property used 16 cubic feet of water at a cost of $45.48. For the same billing period, his own residence used 5 cubic feet of water at a cost of $53.35.
Stumbo said the setup is unfair, especially when he uses less than one-third of the water than his rental property.
"It's not like people really have a choice," said Stumbo, who lives near Thomas Jefferson High School on the Federal Way-Auburn border.
As it turns out, size matters. The bigger your house and water meter, the more you'll pay for water.
Lakehaven customers are charged a fixed monthly rate depending on the size of the pipe that brings water into the home.
Stumbo's rental house, for example, has a 5/8-inch meter, while his larger primary residence has a 1-inch meter.
If a home is bigger and has more fixtures, such as showers and toilets, then the home requires a larger capacity meter.
The 5/8-inch meter is the most common, according to John Bowman, general manager for Lakehaven. Customers with a 5/8-inch meter pay a fixed rate of $11.30 a month.
Customers with a 1-inch meter pay a fixed rate of $23.10 a month. A 1-inch meter has more than twice the capacity of a 5/8-inch meter, and some large homes even have a one-and-a-half-inch meter.
Lakehaven will also re-evaluate a fixture calculation, Bowman said, if a homeowner were to remove a bathroom or lower the fixture count, for example.
As for the price of the water itself, all Lakehaven customers pay the same: $1.43 per 100 cubic feet, which measures 748 gallons.
Lakehaven has about 30,000 water customers. However, roughly 3,000 customers in the western edge of Federal Way are served by Tacoma Water, but get their sewer service from Lakehaven.
The average monthly rate for Tacoma Water customers in Federal Way - with a 5/8-inch meter and 10 cubic feet of water used - is $39.46. According to the Tacoma Water website, customers are charged a higher rate between June 1 and Sept. 30 for water use above 5 cubic feet.
Lakehaven Utility District has posted a chart online that shows the differences in rates. To learn more, visit www.lakehaven.org/rates.htm.