Why Bella Vista’s Water Rates Are Higher
as written by Board Chairwoman
Roberta Dale - July 2009
There has been some concern expressed about why Bella Vista
Village’s water rates are higher than surrounding areas, and
there are many reasons why Bella Vista’s water customers pay
Most of the surrounding communities buy their
water wholesale directly from the Beaver Lake Water District.
The surrounding communities were all members of the Beaver Lake
Water District when it was formed more than 50 years ago. Bella
Vista is not a member of the district.
Bella Vista is a purchase system, buying its
water directly from the City of Bentonville. Bella Vista Village
has a 20 year contract with the City of Bentonville, which in
itself increases the cost of water to Bella Vista. By contract,
the City of Bentonville has to assure that its system and any
system improvement projects are built so they are able to
deliver the water to Bella Vista.
Figured into our rate are improvements to
waterlines and elevated water storage tanks and maintenance for
the system that insures the provision of water to Bella Vista. A
few years ago, Bentonville installed much needed larger lines
from the Beaver Lake Water District to accommodate the area’s
growing needs. Bella Vista pays a portion of these costs, as
well as line maintenance. Costs passed on to Bella Vista are
audited through rate studies to assure that we are being charged
only our share of the improvements.
The contract with Bentonville was a sole source
contract, which prohibited Bella Vista from buying water from
another supplier. In 2006, Bentonville agreed to allow Bella
Vista Village to enter into a contract with another supplier to
provide the west side of the village with water. A second
supplier was needed as the growth in our area taxed the
infrastructure of our current water system. At that time, Bella
Vista Village was considering the prohibition of any further
growth to the west side of the village due to the inability to
Even though Bentonville dropped the sole source
language, Bella Vista Village is mandated through contractual
language to purchase certain quantities of water from the
Bentonville system through 2025. This was required as a
condition to drop the sole source language. This requirement was
needed to allow the City of Bentonville to plan and maintain a
system that would meet the needs of both areas in the future.
At the time the sole source provision was
dropped, Bella Vista Village entered into a contract with
Benton/Washington Regional Public Water Authority, best known as
Two Ton. Unlike the Beaver Lake Water District, Bella Vista
Village is a part of the public water authority and pays the
same rate as other purchasers of water from this system. Within
the first year of the contract with Two-Ton, water rates were
increased for all entities buying water from this system.
In calculating Bella Vista Village’s water rates
the cost of both water systems are added together.
Aside from these two contracts, which deliver
water to Bella Vista Village, we have more than 600 miles of
water lines in the village. During the past several years, the
association started waterline replacement upgrades to your water
system. These costs had been deferred for years to keep from
increasing the water rates. However, these upgrades and the
associated costs could no longer be deferred.
To arrive at a daily charge for water all the cost are added
together. These costs include getting the water to Bella Vista,
line replacement, storage tanks, maintenance, water towers,
operating labor, capital cost, etc. For those members who want
additional, more detailed information, the percentage of the
total cost going into each of these areas is shown in a pie
chart at the bottom of this page.
You may ask, “So what do I pay?” For the first
1,500 gallons of water used the rate is calculated at 73 cents
per day. All water used over and above the first 1,500 gallons
is billed at $9.39 for each additional 1,000 gallons.
In summary, Bella Vista Village’s cost components
are similar to other neighboring water utilities. Our higher
rates can be attributed to the pass through cost of our water
purchase system and the long deferred line replacement and
I hope this provides a little more background
into Bella Vista Village’s current water rates and what
contributes to those rates being higher than surrounding
communities. Our current system of getting water to the village
points out some additional hurdles we will have to face if the
City of Bella Vista and the membership vote to accept a transfer
of the water system.
We do not know what the City of Bentonville or
Benton/Washington Regional Public Water Authority will do in
terms of their contracts with Bella Vista. We do not know if the
city would accept the current contract provisions or what
latitude there is for change. These issues will need further
In my last column I wrote about what needed to
happen for the water to be transferred to the City of Bella
Vista. I stated in that column that the POA currently sets water
rates and if the city takes over the water system the final
rate, taking into consideration all of those items I just
listed, would be established by the Public Service Commission.
This statement was incorrect. We, at the POA, have since learned
that rates for resident and nonresident consumers of a municipal
waterworks system shall be fixed by a legislative body of the
municipality. The statute states that the rate must be adequate
to meet standards as outlined in Arkansas State Code. I
apologize for this error, as it is an important difference.
Until we learn more it is still too early to determine if water
rates would change – either increased or reduced – under a
city-managed Water Department. The POA and the city have started
to work through all of these issues, so we can provide our
members with data to make an informed decision regarding the
future of the water system.