I recently read that Charleston Water System is requesting a rate increase. I find that curious, since the department already charges a significant amount for not providing any water at all.

My wife and I left town this summer for four months. I shut down my water heater and other electronics and closed the water inlet and outlet — no water coming in, no sewage going out. My water bill runs in the low- to mid-50s monthly, so I was surprised to be charged $42.55 per month for not using water for those four months.

I called the water department to ask if there was some mistake but was assured that the $42.55 was the minimum monthly charge.

When I expressed my opinion on that, I was told that the rate was set by the commission and nothing could be done about it by the water department.

My South Carolina Electric & Gas bill, in contrast, which normally runs about $60 was only $11 a month for the four months we were not here, and the electronics on the stove and microwave were left on, accounting for some of that charge.

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that at least 1,000 homes are left vacant in the Charleston area for three of the stifling summer months. I’m sure data exist to pin this number down.

At $42.55 per month, the Charleston Water System is “earning” $127,650 for providing no water service in either direction to these households.

Closing an account at the water department costs nothing. Opening an account costs $60. The representative at the Charleston Water System suggested closing and reopening my account as a way to avoid the monthly minimum charge.

I do understand, I think, a reasonable minimum charge for such service — $42.55 is not reasonable.

Anyway, we’re not sure we can afford to leave town this summer if the Charleston Water System gets a rate increase. We don’t know how much the water we’re not going to use will cost us.

Mike Brooks

Riverland Woods Place

James Island