By Paul Roberts, City Attorney
Question: Why is the City charging me for secondary water during the winter, when the secondary water system is turned off?
Answer: Syracuse’s secondary water system (sprinkler water) includes about 120 miles of pipe, 8000 service points, and other infrastructure, delivering about 2.6 billion gallons of water each year.
The largest costs of the fund are: (1) water supplier assessments, (2) administrative and employee compensation, and (3) capital projects. New development pays impact fees to expand the system, and costs to operate and maintain the system are relatively predictable.
With predictable costs, the City assesses a predictable fee that can be budgeted for throughout the year. When we pay our secondary water bill during the winter, we are ensuring that the bill remains steady year-round, rather than fluctuating upward during the summer months. If we only charged when the water was on, secondary water fees during the six-month irrigation season would double, and then return to zero during the off-season.
For the sake of predictability on the part of the user, and for uniformity in administration, our Council has opted to have a uniform fee assessed throughout the year. We hope this is helpful for budgeting and for those who are on a fixed income.