Senate Bill (SB) 1244 would prohibit the Public Service Commission from allowing private utilities to charge customers higher rates for using large amounts of water. Some water experts say charging people more per gallon for using large amounts of water encourages conservation and keeps water affordable for low-income families.
Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon of Florida, said the bill would seem to eliminate an important incentive for water conservation. “The most important thing we can do for water in the state of Florida is to encourage people to conserve more,” he said. “Water conservation rates are the primary tool used by utilities in order to encourage people to conserve water.”
The PSC only regulates private utilities, so customers of publicly owned utilities would not be affected. Florida has 158 investor-owned water utilities serving 124,619 water customers in 36 counties, according to the PSC.
In addition to prohibiting tiered rates, SB 1244 requires that water provided by utilities be “reasonably free from objectionable taste, color, odor, or sand or other sediment.” Utilities can be fined by the PSC for failing to provide satisfactory service.