Waterloo considering 18 percent sewer rate hike - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo considering 18 percent sewer rate hike

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WATERLOO (KWWL)-- If you live in Waterloo, you could soon be paying higher sewer rates.  The city's considering and 18 percent rate hike to cover the cost of new federal requirements.  This would be the first sewer rate increase since 2003, and it would raise the average bill for a residential customer just shy of $4 a month.

"We do have to make some major improvements to the plant and that's required by new federal regulations.  So we're going to have to have a rate increase to pay for those," said Michelle Weidner, finance director for the city of Waterloo.

The new regulations are part of the "Clean Water Act," and will force the city to start using part of its treatment plant that hasn't been used for about a decade.  On top of that, new treatment procedures will be required, which could run up nearly a $10 million bill in coming years.

"These are serious unfunded mandates.  You know none of us like to raise taxes or fees, and none of us want to pay more to have things, but we probably agree on the goals of some of those regulations," Weidner said.

One of the biggest goals is to keep treated wastewater, which ends up in the Cedar River, bacteria free.

"We hear a lot about, in the state of Iowa, having our rivers fishable and swimmable, and this is part of how we get there," said Weidner. 

The city's currently facing a one million dollar deficit in the sewer budget for fiscal year 2011.  And the proposed rate hike would be just enough to cover that shortfall. 

We also did some checking on what people in other parts of northeast Iowa currently pay for sewer.  Iowa City's rates are currently the highest at around $28 a month.  Cedar Rapids is the lowest at around $17.  Dubuque's rate is just shy of $19 a month.  Waterloo's new rates would fall right in the middle, averaging around $22.

If the new rate is approved, customers would start seeing the higher costs July 1st.

KWWL Reporter: Kera Mashek

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