FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): City Utilities officials announced their plans to address increasing water main breaks and aging infrastructure, Thursday. They’re suggesting a water rate increase that would be phased in over five years.
The proposed water rate increase comes at a time when water main breaks are at an all-time high in Fort Wayne; on average 350 a year.
“Over the last several years, we’ve seen the number of water main breaks increase in our community,” says Kumar Menon, Director of City Utilities. “Some of the pipes that were put in the ground in Fort Wayne have started deteriorating at a much more rapid rate and those pipes are from the 1940’s to the 1970’s.”
To address the aging infrastructure and the recent surge of water main breaks, the rate proposal would increase the average monthly bill for a typical customer by about $1.50 a month for the next five years.
“A $1.50 more to the average water bill takes it from about $23.00 to $24.50 a month and about a $1.50 after that each year,” says Menon.
Last Thursday, May 31, city crews had to respond to five water main breaks within 24 hours, including four on N. Clinton Street alone.
The rate increase gets introduced to Fort Wayne City Council on Tuesday, June 26. Following local approval, the five-year rate plan will be submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for review. Meanwhile, Menon tells WOWO News, they will be meeting as many community members as they can to talk about the investment.
“This is not about the price of something, but the value of something,” Menon says. If approved, the rates would go into effect in 2019.
Listen to Menon’s full interview below.