Water And Sewer Rates Going Up In The Plains

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Customers of The Plains Water and Sewer District will see their utility bills go up.

On Tuesday, the Athens County Commissioners approved a 5 percent increase in sewer charges, after previously deciding to pass along a 3 percent increase The Plains district was assessed for water it purchases from the city of Athens.

The $8.26 per-thousand-gallons water charge for customers of The Plains system will increase to $8.51, according to district Supt. Rich Kasler. Sewer bills are based on water usage, and the $4 per-thousand-gallons sewer charge will increase to $4.20.

Kasler had recommended a 4 percent water increase, but Commissioner Lenny Eliason said he didn’t see the immediate need for the additional 1 percent.

Kasler said he recommended the sewer charge increase because of costs involved in maintaining the district’s infrastructure.

Commissioner Charlie Adkins called the increase a “necessary evil.”

The rate increases will show up on bills that customers receive in February.

According to Kasler, the sewer charge increase does not directly relate to planned upgrades at the sewage treatment plant.

He told the commissioners the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has issued a permit to install for the project, and the agency did not ask for changes to the plans.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Kasler recommended that the commissioners approve a $45,105 contract with the engineering firm GPD Group to handle the project bidding process, and a $54,600 contract with the firm to do on-site inspections during construction.

The commissioners postponed action on Kasler’s recommendation because Eliason wants to check to make sure that GPD Group has been added to the county’s list of pre-qualified contractors, which he said would eliminate the need to seek bids for the work.

W.E. Stilson Consulting Group, the firm originally hired to design the project, was on the list, but the firm was purchased by GPD Group.

The sewer plant upgrade involves installing new pumps at the plant, and a finer pre-treatment screening system that Kasler said is an upcoming EPA mandate. To be bid as an alternate is switching the plant to ultraviolet treatment, Kasler said.

Kasler said the project is expected to go out to bid this spring and be completed before the end of the year.