24 February 2015
Relations between Aqua Virginia and the homeowners within Aqua’s Lake Monticello water and sewer system have been strained by recent events, causing some to call into question whether Aqua communicates effectively with its customers.
Aqua has applied with the State Corporation Commission (SCC) for a rate hike to yield a 12 percent increase in water revenue and a 6.7 percent increase in sewer revenue. It has also requested permission to institute a water and wastewater infrastructure service charge (WWISC) to support infrastructure projects.
Each proposal will have a public hearing in Richmond – the WWISC’s hearing is March 10 and the rate increase’s hearing is March 24. But the public outcry over a rate increase has been so overwhelming that the SCC hearing examiner ordered two rate increase public hearings right here in Fluvanna on March 16 – a first for Aqua Virginia and Lake Monticello.WWISC notification
The SCC required Aqua to notify each customer individually of its WWISC request, and so last September the company included the necessary paperwork in customers’ bills.
But one of the Lake Monticello Owners’ Association’s (LMOA) WWISC notifications was addressed simply to the Riverside Gate entrance – not a valid address – arriving without an envelope as five sheets of paper folded and sealed with plastic tabs, said LMOA General Manager Catherine Neelley. “It was delivered to the clubhouse eventually,” she said.
“It was very disrespectful the way the message was sent to us,” said Lake resident Ida Swenson. “It was very insulting, especially since LMOA is Aqua Virginia’s biggest customer. And they certainly seem to know where to send the bills.”
When asked why the notification didn’t come to LMOA’s proper address, Aqua Virginia President Shannon Becker replied that LMOA “must have an account with that address on file.” And as an Aqua customer with 21 separate monthly bills, LMOA did receive 21 WWISC notifications properly tucked inside its bills.