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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The City Council has approved a tiered water-rate schedule that will result in an average 13 percent hike and will charge heavier users during the summer more in an effort to encourage conservation.
"We have to change our habits," Councilwoman Nancy Saxton, who said the city should have implemented the plan much earlier, told the meeting Tuesday. "Consider this a gift. We put it off for three years. Shower with a friend and enjoy yourselves."
From April to October, residents will pay 72 cents per 100 cubic feet up to 900 cubic feet. The cost then will jump to $1.10 per 100 cubic feet for up to 2,900 cubic feet. And those who use more than 2,900 cubic feet will pay $1.53 per 100 cubic feet.
Most customers use 3,200 cubic feet of water each month. The city wants use to drop to 2,900 cubic feet and believes the rate structure will help.
The city also is raising rates because achieved and expected conservation means reduced revenue.
"We have to charge more whether we like it or not," Councilman Dale Lambert said.
Councilman Dave Buhler was the sole dissenter. He said the city doesn't know if the people using more water waste it or just need more of it -- including large families. Buhler has five children.
"If we adopt this plan we're penalizing people ... for using the water they need," he said.
Citizens speaking against the plan said it would result in ugly, dead yards or smelly residents.
"I don't know what you want me to do," said Linda Smith, who lives in Cottonwood Heights and said she conserves water already. "I don't want to let my yard go dead. What do I do? Not wash my clothes? Wear dirty clothes? Take a shower once in a blue moon?"
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)