Politics & Government

Wichita will consider water, sewer rate increases in December

Wichita Department of Public Works employees begin to jackhammer the street on the scene of a slow water leak coming up through the concrete at the corner of 15th and Salina in 2013.
Wichita Department of Public Works employees begin to jackhammer the street on the scene of a slow water leak coming up through the concrete at the corner of 15th and Salina in 2013. File photo

Wichita council members could consider higher water and sewer rates for residents in early December.

City staffers are projecting a 4 percent increase in water rates and a 5 percent increase in sewer rates.

For a residence using 3,750 gallons per month, the combined water and sewer rate increase would cost $1.85 a month.

For a residence using 7,500 gallons per month, that would mean an increase of $2.78. For a high-use residence rate of 15,000 gallons per month, that would mean a $4.73 hike.

Commercial locations using about 100,000 gallons per month would see a $26.55 increase. And industrial sites using 10 million gallons per month would see a $2,489 increase from the proposed rates.

Public Works and Utilities Director Alan King said the increases are needed to invest in water and sewer infrastructure and keep it viable.

“What we’re trying to do is to address the deferred maintenance issues that all of you inherited,” City Manager Robert Layton told council members during a Tuesday workshop session.

“We have a significant reinvestment in our system that’s necessary in order to be able to deliver service in a reliable way,” Layton said.

We have a significant reinvestment in our system that’s necessary in order to be able to deliver service in a reliable way.

Robert Layton, Wichita City Manager

The proposed rate increase is close to what residents saw this year.

Reinvestment is about addressing immediate concerns like water line breaks to “hopefully, at some point, get ahead of the curve,” Layton said.

The rate increases could bring the city an additional $6 million to $7 million in revenue.

“We would have an under 1 percent increase if we didn’t care about fixing an aging system,” Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell said.

King said Wichita’s water and sewer systems have seen lower failure rates since the city began repairing that infrastructure more frequently.

He added that the rates will help the city meet a minimum ratio for its debts.

The vote on the rate increase is planned for early December, according to city documents.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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