Water-Related News

Experts: Water rates 'significant' in lowering usage

WINTER HAVEN — Water is the topic not only of the season, but of the year and decade.

And in the last decade or so, utilities departments have transitioned from flat rates to tiered structures — charging heavier water users more per gallon in an effort to decrease their usage. Data collected from Polk County, Lakeland, Winter Haven and Lake Wales show the tiered structures have done just that.

"Of course, there are other programs and initiatives that have contributed to lowering water usage," Polk County Utilities Director Marjorie Craig said, "but the tiered water rates provide the clearest reduction."

In Polk County, the average amount of water used per day per resident went from a peak of 128 gallons before 2003 — when its tiered structure was established — to 75 gallons last year.

In Lakeland, those numbers went from 87 gallons to 73 gallons those years. Lakeland's tiered structure has been in place for at least 20 years, Utilities Director Robert Conner said.