Columbia Water customers could soon see an increase in bills

Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 10:00 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - City leaders are looking to increase water and sewage bills by about 5%. 

On Tuesday night, the city council approved the first reading for the 5% increase. Assistant City manager Clint Shealy says it’s to fight ongoing inflation.

Shealy says Columbia Water is feeling the impacts of inflation just like anyone else and the cost of producing safe drinking water for citizens is going up.

For the first time in two years, Columbia Water customers might see their sewage and water bills increase.

“So, we’re looking at our financial results each year; however, last night Council passed an ordinance that would give us a five percent adjustment each year for the next five years,” said Clint Shealy the Assistant City Manager.

Shealy says for the average customer who uses about 6000 gallons of water a month will see a $3.00 and 99 cent increase in their monthly bill.

“So, it’s a program,” he said, “It’s not always looking at the inflationary pressures that we’ve seen the past few years and kind of truing us up there. We’re also funding a significant capital program to improve our infrastructure.”

Shealy says the increase will bring about $9 million a year and will help improve the water quality in areas throughout the city.

“We’ve got some pipes that are deteriorating in the Rosewood area. Occasionally we’ll have some discoloration of the water there. We’ll have frequent line breaks there and that’s a big nuisance for our citizens. So, we want to replace that infrastructure there,” said Shealy.

But some people WIS spoke with just days after the first approval from the city council to increase the rate are not looking forward to footing the bill.

“I mean everything is already going up,” said Linda who lives in Columbia.

“$66 a month is already too high. It’s not right,” said Tawanda Chestnut, another resident.

A second approval is needed before the rate increase takes effect on July 1.

The $9 million expected from the rate increase will be in addition to the $10 million grant from the Rural Infrastructure Authority to help fund those water and sewer projects.

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