DECATUR, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – At Tuesday night’s Decatur City Council meeting, councilmen voted unanimously on a sewer rate increase.
The increase, expected to be $10 on the low end and $45 on the high end for each resident each month, will raise $3 million for the city to build a new rain water storage facility.
The rate increase comes after a mandate issued to the city by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to increase their capacity to hold rain water. In Decatur, heavy rain totals cause its current 750,000 gallon storage tank to overflow. During an overflow, the water combines with its sanitary system and forces sewage into the St. Marys River.
"We have to capture that. We have to store that. And then so, we'll store that and then we will release it after the rain's over. Then we'll slowly release so it goes to the plant, is treated and then we're OK," says Decatur Mayor John Schultz.
Jean Atkinson says she and her husband will probably be on the low end of the increase. After looking over her utility bill, she figures to pay about $10 dollars more in her sewer rate each month, which will equate to about $120 per year. She says she is surprised by the increase but understands there is little the city can do about it.
“Well, I was surprised, but I guess I might have known it was coming. I guess you have to do what you have to do.”
Atkinson, six years into her retirement, says she and her husband are not worried about the increase. She is worried, however, for larger families living on fixed incomes. She advises looking over utility bills now to gauge the volume of water consumed each month. She also suggests saving water now.
"Try to save what water they can. Don't use any more than you have to, and get along the best you can,” Atkinson says.
Shultz says he wishes he and council did not have to impose an increase, but he says the city’s hands are tied.
"It's a mandate that comes from IDEM. They didn't give us any money with this mandate. We have to do it, and our engineers are estimating that it's going to cost us about $3 million to meet that mandate," Schultz says.
Construction on the new storage facility is expected to begin in 2014.
10 tips on saving water at home from edenproject.com:
1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth – this can save 6 litres of water per minute.
2. Place a cistern displacement device in your toilet to reduce the volume of water used in each flush. You can get one of these from your water provider.
3. Take a shorter shower. A shower can use anything between 6 and 45 litres per minute.
4. Always use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher – this cuts out unnecessary washes in between.
5. Fix a dripping tap. A dripping tap can waste 15 litres of water a day, or 5,500 litres of water a year.
6. Install a water butt to your drainpipe and use the water collected to water your plants, clean your car and wash your windows.
7. Water your garden with a watering can rather than a garden hose. A hose uses 1,000 litres of water an hour. Mulching your plants (with bark chippings, heavy compost or straw) and watering in the early morning and late afternoon will reduce evaporation and also save water.
8. Fill a jug with tap water and place this in your fridge. This will mean you do not have to leave the cold tap running for the water to run cold before you fill your glass.
9. Install a water meter. When you're paying your utility provider for exactly how much water you use, laid out in an itemised bill, there's an incentive to waste less of the stuff.
10. Invest in water-efficient goods when you need to replace household products. You can now buy water-efficient showerheads, taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and many other water-saving products.
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