Saturday, February 5, 2011

Wondering about Water? The City of Falls Church Story The City of Falls Church provides excellent water service at a low price! The City of Falls Church is proud of its continuous record of outstanding customer service at a price lower than two thirds of Virginia's public water utilities. The City of Falls Church Water Utility delivers more than five billion gallons of safe drinking water annually to 120,000 people in a 33 square mile area.

The Falls Church water system includes:

  • 34,500 customer accounts
  • 17 million gallons per day
    (equal to 1 water tank every 2 hours)
  • 497 miles of water mains
  • 9,977 valves
  • 10 storage tanks
  • 8 pumping stations
  • 52 employees
You may have read or heard stories in the media lately about ongoing litigation related to the City of Falls Church Water Utility and demands for "refunds" by the Fairfax County government and County residents for water bill payments. Information provided here will clarify the incomplete and inaccurate information that has appeared in some of the media coverage.
Falls Church Water Rates
  • The City's water rates are among the lowest in the national capital region. (see chart). Among 17 water service providers in the Washington, D.C. region, 12 have rates higher than the City of Falls Church.
  • The City of Falls Church water rate is lower than two-thirds of the public water utilities in Virginia.
  • The City's water rate, which is the same for both Falls Church City and Fairfax County residents, has remained the same for five years.
  • As a result of the recent court rulings, the City is undertaking a rate study.
Why is the Falls Church Water Rate Different than the Fairfax Water Rate?
  • The City of Falls Church Water Utility is an older system and has an older infrastructure with higher operational costs than Fairfax .
  • Fairfax Water has about seven times more customers than CFC and benefits from economies of scale.
  • Fairfax Water has large wholesale water customers including Loudoun and Prince William Counties.
  • Although Fairfax Water charges a lower rate for water, they have a much higher hook up fee.
  • The City of Falls Church Water Utility is the "go to" water supply for new development.
Explain the Court Ruling on Equity Issue and Legal Authority to Set Rates
  • The Fairfax County Circuit Court ruling last year addressed the City's long-standing practice of transferring revenues from the water fund to the general fund.
  • The City's Charter specifically authorizes the City to earn and transfer utility profits. Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Ney ruled the City may not earn and transfer profits from the water fund to the general fund.
  • Other localities across Virginia maintain their clear legal authority to charge rates that include a return on equity.
  • Although the City did not agree with the decision, we do respect it and have taken immediate action to fully comply.
What is the City's Response to Fairfax County government and other customers' demands for a refund?
  • The City is being sued by Fairfax County and others demanding a refund for water payments.
  • The City Attorney is reviewing Fairfax County government and other customer demands for a refund. It is important to note that the court ruling did not order refunds.
How long has Falls Church been in the water business?
  • The City of Falls Church Water Utility was created in the 1930s to serve the people of Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County.
  • The City Water Utility has been a key partner with Fairfax County in providing infrastructure for the development of Tysons Corner, Merrifield, and Seven Corners. City water services have grown as the needs grew.
  • The City of Falls Church and Fairfax County had an agreement for more than 30 years regarding the provision of water service to the Falls Church-Fairfax County areas. That agreement expired in 1989. Falls Church City leaders have reached out repeatedly to initiate discussions with Fairfax County leaders about the delivery of water service in the City's traditional service territory.
For more information:
January 7, 2011