Columbus water rates set to surge in 2017

Columbus residents might soon have to pay a little more for water starting in 2017.
Columbus residents might soon have to pay a little more for water starting in 2017.

COLUMBUS, Ga. — People living in Columbus will most likely have to pay more money for their water soon. It all comes as a result of 25 projects Columbus Water Works has slated over the next year.

Columbus Water Works is proposing a 2.9% increase across the board for water bills. Industrial, commercial, and residential areas are all included. If the proposal passes, a penny will buy about 4.4 gallons of water in Columbus.

Water Works tells News 3 that on average, a person paying $50.01 for about 6,000 gallons of water would pay $51.89 under the new water rate.

Vic Burchfield is the Vice President of Information, Security and Environmental Services at Columbus Water Works. He says the proposed bump in city water bills will cover the $50 million municipal bond issue. The projects are prioritized based on social and economic impact, as well as the risks posed if the projects are neglected.

Columbus residents might soon have to pay a little more for water starting in 2017.
Columbus residents might soon have to pay a little more for water starting in 2017.

The North Columbus Water Resources Facility and South Columbus Water Resources Facility represent the most capital investment at $10.54 million and $22.18 million respectively. Burchfield says an improved credit rating prevented Water Works from having to increase water rates nearly 5%.

“We still have to maintain the same infrastructure, the same pipes and sewer lines under the streets and so forth,” Burchfield explained when asked about the spike in water rates. “So all of that activity has to be maintained and the water and waste water plants have to still be staffed at the same levels.”

The hike comes despite an 18% drop in water usage in Columbus (per capita) since 2012. Burchfield credits the dip to more people becoming cost conscious. He also says conservation efforts are growing during an ongoing drought across the region. The water bill surge is the lowest since 2013. Burchfield emphasizes that Columbus gets better values for water compared to similar-sized cities such as Macon, Savannah, and Montgomery.

The proposed rate hikes will go before the water board in the coming weeks. If passed, the hikes would go into effect January 1, 2017.

 

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