Lynchburg Customers Angry Over Potential Water Rate Hike

Lynchburg, VA - It's the news that's putting a damper on the people that pay Lynchburg for their water. They could be facing up to a 15% rate hike for that city service.

Lynchburg officials say the hike would stem from a loss of 15% of their customer base, from parts of Bedford County moving to another source. Lynchburg would produce the same amount of water, just without the same number of people to purchase it.

But those that pay for that city service are saying they don't want to foot the bill.

"It's the elixir of life as well as the elixir of our business" said Jim Dudley as he pours a glass of water.

Dudley owns Jimmy's on the James in Lynchburg. Like most restaurants, his uses a lot of water.

"You need a lot of water for ice, got to make all your drinks, water for the customers, water for our dishes" he said.

His city water bill averages around $100-150 every month. On top of all the other bills, taxes, and fees he's forced to pay, he doesn't want to pay potentially 15% more for his water.

"It's incumbent upon anything from government to run as efficiently as it can, and as cheaply as it can so that John Q. Citizen has more of his own money in his pocket" said Dudley.

But in comparison, a recent city study showed Lynchburg's average monthly water bill comes in at around $18, well under the state average of more than $27. Bedford County came in at $37.

But a 15% hike for Lynchburg customers could take that $18 to $21, a cost that could add up quick.

"Things that we're looking at are phasing in rates over a number of years" said Tim Mitchell, Lynchburg's Director for the Department of Water Resources.

Mitchell says the city will likely slowly increase the rate. Or consider other options, like delaying city capital projects.

"There might be ways that we can operate our system a little more efficiently internally as well to save some money" said Mitchell.

"It's a deal so far, it should remain a deal" said Dudley.

Lynchburg supplies water to parts of Amherst, Campbell, and Bedford Counties. All those customers could see a rate hike.

This is still only a possibility. Bedford County has to hold a public hearing on the switch, something that'll likely happen in the coming months.