Lima sewer rates going up to pay for EPA mandates

LIMA — Sewer rates for customers tied into the city of Lima’s system will be heading up over the course of the next few years to help pay for projects mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Utilities Director Gary Sheely said Monday.

Sheely, speaking to members of Lima City Council, said the increase and flat-sewer rate structure will be phased in over the course of the next nine years along with the removal of an outside surcharge. Customers outside the city will likely be the first to see changes, Sheely said.

“It’s threefold. One is to make sure we maintain competitive rates with our brethren out in the county, that’s the removal of the surcharge and the flattening the rates,” Sheely said. “The other means is for the start of funding these mandates.”

Sheely said customers are looking at a $50 monthly bill just for sewer service, beginning possibly in January. The mandates are a series of four projects required by the U.S. EPA as part of a permit that allows the city to discharge stormwater and treated sewage into the Ottawa River. The $32.51 million projects, which must be completed by 2018, are part of an agreement between the city and the EPA on extend the city’s permit through 2015. Sheely said overall costs, beyond the four projects tied to the permit, could approach $150 million.

“The Early Action items will be included in the affordability considerations of the [city’s long term control plan] to ensure these expenses are considered when calculating the cost of our Clean Water Act mandates,” Sheely wrote in an Oct. 30 letter to councilors. “Without the inclusion, as stated, the cost impacts on Lima’s residential sewer customers would be significantly greater in meeting the federal mandates.”

Read more at LimaOhio.com. By Bob Blake.

Photo credit: TexasGOPVote.com (Creative Commons)

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