Boost to help fund $450M utility rehab
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Toledo City Council voted yesterday to boost the price of sewer and water services during the next four years to continue paying for multimillion-dollar upgrades to the city's utility systems.
Sewer rates will increase 9.9 per cent and water rates 4.5 percent a year through 2010.
Council's vote was 10-0, with members Mark Sobczak and Phillip Copeland absent.
A customer who was paying a quarterly bill of $109 for water and sewer service last year would see that charge rise to $119 a quarter this year, $129 next year, $140 in 2009, and $152 in 2010.
The sewer increases are needed to pay off the debt on a $450 million modernization of the city wastewater treatment system, Robert Williams, city Public Utilities director, has said.
City residents were warned five years ago that sewer rates would have to double over 15 years to pay for the system upgrade that was required under the settlement of a lawsuit filed against the city by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr. Williams said the sewer rates will double by 2010.
The boost in water rates was necessary to pay for the debt on a new water main in East Toledo that will deliver higher water pressure to southwest Toledo, Mr. Williams said, as well as the rising costs of the water treatment and distribution system. More....
Many cities are feeling the cash crunch in trying to bring their treatment plants into compliance under updated EPA restrictions. One of the biggest problems in older communities is the infiltration of storm water into their sanitary sewers. Many communities still have combination sewers. Infiltration or combination sewers increase the flows and forces the cities to treat storm water which can be discharged directly into the waterways. Overall sewer districts in general are having trouble with the financial burdens meeting these new EPA requirements. To help with financing the 1987 CWA Amendments created the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) to replace Construction Grants program. The CWSRF is a loan program that provides low-cost financing.
Monitoring the effluent discharged at treatment plants is essential to cleaning up and maintaining our waterways. The problem is that the EPA and "tree huggers" are now trying to push for treatment plants to clean up the residuals of prescription drugs in the water, which are by-products of human waste. There has been studies showing - residual traces of birth control pills are keeping female fish from reproducing and traces of Xanax is decreasing the sex drive in male fish. To insert some King sarcasm - " I guess Viagra does not work on fish!" There are basically three types of filtration, biological, mechanical and chemical. These standard filtration methods will not remove residual traces of prescription drugs from treated water. Decreasing the storm water infiltration and combination sewers mentioned above, is where the improvements need to be concentrated. Storm water run-off is more damaging to the waterways, as it is routinely contaminated with fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals. Something Toledo area residents might want to consider - request the city to pro rate your sewer bills using the winter months for a better reflection of true usage. Sewer bills are based on water usage. In the winter time, all water used in your house is discharged directly to the sanitary sewer which will be treated. In the summer time, the extra water you use to wash your car, water your grass, fill your pool, etc.... Your sewer bill will reflect this increased usage.