GAINESVILLE – The City of Gainesville is changing fees charged to customers for water that those customers hope never gets used; some fees will be going up and some will be going down.
The water that customers hope never gets used? It’s the water inside private fire suppression lines; the water that is always available in sprinkler systems and dedicated fire department connection ports.
It’s about one-percent of the city’s customers according to Gainesville Water Resources Director Linda MacGregor. “It affects about 550 of our 55,000 customers,” MacGregor said after Tuesday evening’s Gainesville City Council voting session.
“What the customer is paying for is the availability of the water and the pressure to fight a fire,” MacGregor explained.
MacGregor said fire suppression systems are required in larger building throughout the city, and when those systems activate the needed volume of water can be significant. “We provide additional capacity to fight the fire,” MacGregor added.
On those rare occasions when fire suppression systems are triggered, the water available remains continuous until the system is shut down by responders. “We don’t charge for the water that is used to fight the fire but for the availability of the water.”
MacGregor summarized the rate changes, saying: “For small connections the fee is going down, and if you have an 8” or 10” connection, which is a couple of hundred people, it’s going up about $200 a year.”
The vote by the city council to adopt the new fee schedule was unanimous and takes effect November 1, 2019.