"We have to abandon that (two-tier) rate structure under the statute," Ange said.
Property owners who do a lot of irrigation, including homeowners who regularly water lawns, could save money by having a second water hook-up for their outdoor watering. By having the second meter, they can avoid being charged the sewer fee for water that's landing on lawns rather than going into the municipal wastewater treatment system.
The end of volume discounts will be discussed more in the coming year, and the city will be working to finalize other conservation measures required by the new law, Ange said. The continuation of the even-odd watering schedule, which began this year, is likely to be one of those measures.
As for the 2 percent increase in water rates, the hike is aimed at ensuring that revenue keeps up with the short-term and long-term costs of operating and maintaining the city's water and sewer system. A consultant hired as part of a comprehensive study of Mankato utility rates found that the city wasn't currently generating enough money from utility bills to fully cover the operations, maintenance and replacement of the roughly $150 million worth of facilities that provide clean drinking water and treat wastewater and sewage.
Gradual increases to keep revenue in line with expenses, along with maintaining adequate utility fund reserves, is the best course, Ange said.
"It's important to look at this on an incremental basis so that we don't have significant spikes in our rates," she said.