Evansville residents will soon be receiving their utility bills in the mail, but they will notice a new charge on the statement that could be a steep increase.
Officials have been talking about the water and sewer rate hikes for a long time and they are finally here. Customers are billed for water, sewer, trash and now there's a line that says mandate. That is the fee customers are being charged that now goes toward upgrading our current sewer systems.
As a part of the Clean Water Act, the EPA is requiring cities to upgrade their systems. There are more than 800 miles of sewer lines in Evansville, some of which are more than 90 years old.
Each year about $2 billion gallons of sewage goes into the Ohio River during overflow events such as heavy rains when the pipelines can't handle both the water and the sewage.
Evansville has about 50 overflow events each year and the EPA has mandated that the city must bring that into the single digits. Evansville's plan will come close to the requirement, but hasn't been approved by the EPA.
"Based on engineering estimates, it would get us to 12 overflows per year which is the upper limit of what the EPA desires. Anywhere from zero to 12. The reason we've chosen this number is because we see no incremental benefit to trying to get it below to trying to get it to below 12. It's just too costly for the city and it's not affordable," said Allen Mounts with Evansville Water and Sewer Utility. "We have presented a plan that we feel is affordable and one that is actually a longer period of time than what the EPA normally does. Theirs is a 20 year plan. Ours is 28 year plan."
Here's a breakdown of the increases you can expect to see.
The typical residential user's bill for 4,000 gallons would go from $27.12 a month to $35.83 next year. Then $38.74 in 2015 and $45.72 in 2016. That's an increase of more than $18.
Out of city customers would pay a 35 percent surcharge, so this year's typical bill of about $36.60 will rise to $48.37 next year, $52.24 in 2015, and $61.66 in 2016. That's an increase of $25.
While many residents might not be happy about the rate increases, you might be happy to hear that the sewers that run along the southeast side of the city called bee slough are eventually going to be completely eliminated. That will eliminate that sewage smell during those hot summer months.
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