The Public Utilities Commission has reviewed the rates for the Belize Water Services, and they think that your water bill, starting April 1 should go down by 6.38%.

That was their initial decision after conducting an annual review proceeding for 2018 on the water company's rates. Currently, if you live on the mainland, you're being charged 17 dollars and 49 cents for every 1000 gallons of water you use from BWS. If this decision is adopted as final, that rate will go down to 16 dollars and 27 cents for every 1000 gallons of water you use.

This evening, the PUC held a press conference to make the announcement, and here's how Chairman John Avery explained it:

John Avery, Chairman - PUC
"This 2018 ARP for the annual review proceeding which I will refer to as ARP hereafter, for BWS was initiated by the PUC. We did a last rate review for BWS, the 2014-15 full tariff review proceeding and there hasn't been any annual review proceeding since. The rate that was approved in the last FTRP was $17.49 per thousand gallons. That will be charged up until March 31st 2018. So the approved tariff for 2015-18 is reflected there below at $17.49. The rate we have to 2018-2020 is $16.37 per thousand gallons. You may note that the average for the next 2 years basically is higher than that amount. However, that includes the $15.91 for this year. So that the variance in the approved average there is $1.12 which represents an average decrease of 6.39 percent."

"So at this current moment, the current financial picture of BWS is that it justifies this 6.39% decrease going back to the customer?"

John Avery, Chairman - PUC
"Yes because basically in effect there are 2 things that can be contributed to that. We have the correction. We may set a rate for BWS and we use the consumption and determine the average tariff, but let's say the consumption goes up by 10% without BWS doing anything. It doesn't cost BWS much more to do that, it's just in the production. They don't need to hire more people, they don't need more trucks, more anything. So then the revenues they collect is significantly higher than what we approve. That difference is what we have rebate to the customers but let's say the consumption drops. Then BWS will collect less revenues than we approve. That difference goes to BWS because under the law they are to cover their cost. If they don't sell enough water, they don't cover the cost, the rebate then goes to BWS as oppose to consumers."

This is the initial decision from the PUC. BWS or interested parties representing users of at least 10% of the annual amount of water supplied by the company can object in writing. If there are any objections, an independent expert will be appointed to review the regulated values, tarrifs, fees and charges, and make recommendations. Thereafter, a final decision will be made. If there are no objections, then this initial decision becomes the new water rates.

Channel 7