Note: This story was updated at 6:50 p.m.
Some Oak Ridge City Council members have questioned whether the federal government is paying enough for municipal water at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, and on Monday, four of them proposed roughly tripling a potential new high-volume water rate at the two federal sites in 2017.
The new water rate would apply to water consumption over 20 million gallons per month, which would limit it to ORNL and Y-12. The two sites use a total of more than 100 million gallons of water per month.
The new rate is expected to go into effect in April 2017 only if Oak Ridge and the U.S. Department of Energy aren’t able to agree on a contract for water at ORNL and Y-12 by the end of March. Those two federal sites now pay a flat annual rate but could default to what is known as a retail rate if the contract lapses.
The city staff had proposed a new default rate of $1.08 per thousand gallons for consumption over 20 million gallons starting January 1, 2017. The following year, in 2018, the staff had proposed a $1.35 rate.
But four City Council members—Rick Chinn, Charlie Hensley, Trina Baughn, and Chuck Hope—voted to raise the $1.08 rate in 2017 to $3 per 1,000 gallons. Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch, Mayor Pro Tem Ellen Smith, and Council member Kelly Callison voted against the increase. [Read more…]