By Michael Pope
Alexandria is one of the only localities in Virginia that has private water service, an arrangement that dates back to the 1840s when the city left the District of Columbia and returned to Virginia.
The way current utility regulation works in the commonwealth, the Virginia American Water Company can actually raise rates before the State Corporation Commission approves hike. Water company spokesman David Barney acknowledges that the company hit customers with a 22 percent increase in 2008 even though they were eventually only approved for a 10 percent increase.
"All of our customers were refunded the difference," says Barney. "It's not like we took the money and they never saw the money back."
Now the water company has filed notice it plans to increase rates again, this time for a 22 percent increase. Alexandria Councilwoman Del Pepper says she thinks the company should have to wait for regulatory approval.
"This is a heck of a way to run a water company or any kind of a company," says Pepper. "I can't imagine other groups getting away with something like that."
The new rate will go into effect on August 13.