Billing Audit – REU Rating
If your account is listed as commercial or multi-unit residential use, you may have recently received a letter in the mail advising of a change in the billing structure related to the collection of our fixed-debt recovery charges. The method for billing for these charges is dependent upon the correct evaluation of the demand for service at your property in relation to the typical demand of a single family residence. This number is referred to as the Residential Equivalent Unit, or REU.
A History of the REU
This REU figure is used to ensure that a facility that has a higher demand for water and/or waste water service pays a proportionately higher cost to develop and maintain the infrastructure used to deliver the service from source to point of use, as in the case of water, or point of discharge to point of treatment, as in the case with waste water. Without this system in place, a user with greater need for service, such as a factory that builds on the same route as a single family residence, might cause the financial burden for increasing water main line sizes and lift station capacity to be unfairly distributed.
Prior to the merger of the two utilities in 2008, the City of Brunswick Water Department utilized the REU method for the fixed-debt charges whereas the Glynn County Water Department did not. Both utilities utilized the same policy on billing actual metered consumption for the variable usages charge on the bill.
Following BGJWSC Board approval of an audit of these methods over the past two years, our staff has been diligent in determining the correct REU rating on all accounts, whether commercial, such as gas stations and hotels, non-residential, such as churches, and multi-unit residential, such as apartments and duplexes. An update on this audit was approved by the BGJWSC Board and the results will be included in the September 2014 billing.
The BGJWSC has made a commitment to perform this system-wide audit every three years to determine if the rating is accurate and consistent. Water and waste water rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis.
The gallon-per-day flow rating system that is used to calculate the REU is one that was adopted using industry-standard mean averages collected over many decades and published by the American Water Works Association. The BGJWSC has updated that table of data using actual flow records from users within our system and will continue reviewing it so that the figures can be fair and equitable to all of our customers. That table may be viewed within our Rate Resolution at our page of Current Reports: http://www.bgjwsc.org/about-the-bgjwsc/current-reports/
Figuring the REU
For simple calculations on businesses that have a single primary function, such as an office or factory, our staff uses the following Excel spreadsheet to calculate the REU: REU_CALC
(Microsoft Excel will be required for viewing this document. A viewer may be downloaded here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=10)
For more complex calculations, especially those involving industrial use or businesses where water consumption is part of the process essential to the business, such as a seafood package plant, the REU may be figured on average consumption. The typical single family residence uses 9,000 gallons per month or 300 gallons per day. The thousand gallon monthly consumption of any location can thus be divided by 9 to yield the REU. The BGJWSC prefers to have a total of at least 12 months consumption history in order to use flow as a measurement of consumption, but exceptions must sometimes be made, especially in the case of new businesses without flow averages that must pay tap in fees based on the REU. In those cases, our staff will calculate fees using best-known figures provided by a project engineer and adjust accordingly when adequate history is known. The BGJWSC may then find it necessary to charge more tap in fees and potentially backdate an increase in the fixed-debt charges for that customer.
In cases where the expected flow is unknown, the BGJWSC may base the calculations on the square footage of the facility, where 3,000 sq. ft. equals one REU.
In order to properly figure this REU, our staff is prepared to assist you by phone or email. Please call Linda ‘Faith’ Blecher at 912.261.7139 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up an appointment, if necessary.