Water and sewer rates in Wichita will be going up again next year. City council members voted on the increase Tuesday morning.
Local residents should expect to see their water and sewer bills go up about $2 to $8 a month, depending on usage.
The Wichita City Council approved a 5 percent rate increase that is meant to help replace aging infrastructure. The rate change is similar to the increase approved last year.
Alan King, director of Public Works and Utilities, said decades of under-funding has led to a backlog of water and sewer improvements. Wichita State University estimated in 2012 that the city is short about $1.6 billion for future improvements to water and sewer infrastructure.
“As you can see, that’s a very big number,” King said. “That’s not going to be addressed in a single year or with a single rate increase.”
Tuesday’s approved rate increases will amount to roughly $7.5 million in improvements.
The city has hired outside consultants to create a plan for tackling water and sewer needs. King said it would be a decades-long process.
CH2M Hill was hired last month at a cost of $1.7 million to investigate the health of Wichita’s water/sewer lines, treatment plants, and pump stations. According to King, the company will then create a timeline of when each asset will need to be replaced.
King says the study will allow his department to better plan for future costs.
CH2M Hill will also look into how the city pays for its infrastructure needs. The city’s water and sewer system is currently paid for through utility rates and revenue bonds.
King says there’s a potential for private dollars to be spent on infrastructure improvements.
CH2M Hill will present their findings to the city in 2017.
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