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EL DORADO -- Beginning April 1, customers of El Dorado Water Utilities will see a rate increase of about 7% on their monthly bills.

On March 5, the El Dorado City Council adopted ordinances that will raise water rates by 2% and wastewater rates by 12%, resulting in an overall increase of 7% for the average customer's bill.

The proposal was part of a recommendation from Raftelis, a utility and public-sector consulting firm that focuses on finance, organization and technology, including water and wastewater rate studies, cost analyses, and financial and strategic planning.

Raftelis proposed that the utility replace between 4 and 6 miles of pipe each year. The city has about 400 miles of water lines and 200 miles of wastewater lines, which are decades old.

The revenue from the rate increases will go toward those projects.

Lisa White and Anjanett "AJ" Kemp, the utility's customer service manager and billing manager, respectively, said the new rates will be reflected in next month's water bills.

White said the first set of monthly statements will go out April 3 and will primarily include industrial and commercial customers in business districts along Hillsboro and North West Avenue, with some residential customers mixed in.

El Dorado Water Utilities officials and Robert Edmonds, the city's director of public works, said the rate increases will be re-assessed within three years.

The utility is also taking $260,000 from its reserves to develop an engineering plan for capital improvement projects on the wastewater side of operations. The Raftelis study pointed to major repairs that are sorely needed.

In January, Seth Garrison, a senior manager of Raftelis, told council members that the city's two wastewater treatment plants, both of which were built in the late 1970s, have far outlived their useful lives.

"Most of the plants across the country that vintage have already been replaced and refurbished once or twice," Garrison said then. "If you don't repair them, bad things are going to start happening. You're going to have failures, compliance issues, could have fines ..."

He said state and federal environmental regulatory agencies "have come down" on many communities for not tending to necessary repairs of water and wastewater systems.

Estimated rehabilitation costs for the city range from $19 million to $40 million.

State Desk on 03/16/2020

Print Headline: Water, sewage bills up 7% in El Dorado

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