Collinsville water rates to rise 38 percent

News-DemocratDecember 3, 2013 

— City residents will pay 38 percent more on their water bills in 2014, as the city builds a new water plant.

The City Council decided in September to build a new water treatment plant, replacing the current plant that is more than 60 years old. The old plant requires extensive renovations to bring it up to code and meet increasing demands.

According to a report prepared for the city, Hurst-Rosche Engineering recommended building a new plant rather than renovating the existing plant. While their estimates showed that the new $16.6 million plant would cost approximately $2.3 million more than the renovation, the complications possible with renovating an operating plant could lead to city-wide water shortages. It also could take up to 50 percent longer, they said, which could elevate costs to make it more expensive than the new plant.

"It will be much easier to construct a new plant next to the existing plant, and when we go online, tear down the old plant," water Director Dennis Kress said.

Hurst-Rosche recommended the new plant in part for the more efficient filtration technology that would be comparable in price to conventional concrete bed filters and will significantly reduce operation costs.

With the current plant, Kress said, major repairs and upgrades require shutting down the plant, and the city has only about 30 hours of water supply. The new plant is designed with total redundancy, so major repairs and maintenance can be performed without shutting down, he said.

"Our mindset is that constructing a new plant is the best way to maintain quality infrastructure and facilities that will provide optimal service to city residents at the most reasonable cost," Williams said.

The new rate increase will be $4.60 per 1,000 gallons used, which is an increase of $1.27 per 1,000 gallons used. Collinsville's current rate is $3.33 per 1,000 gallons, which Kress said is near the bottom for water rates in the area.

Kress said officials explored the option of buying water from a conglomerate like Illinois-American Water, as some area towns do. "What we found from our neighboring communities that buy from Illinois-American is that their residents pay significantly higher rates than the citizens of Collinsville," Kress said. "Constructing the new plant will ensure water quality and water prices for the next couple of decades."

City officials will hold a special meeting on the rate increase at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at City Hall. The public is encouraged to give their input.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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