Politics & Government

Water and sewer rates going up in Wichita

The Wichita City Council has approved a package of water and sewer rate increases totaling $6.3 million.
The Wichita City Council has approved a package of water and sewer rate increases totaling $6.3 million. File photo

In Wichita, it will soon cost you more to buy water and more to get rid of it.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a package of water and sewer rate increases totaling $6.3 million. The 2017 water rates will rise 4 percent and sewer rates 5 percent for a combined increase of 4.4 percent, city records show.

That translates to a $1.85 increase for a small residential consumer using 3,750 gallons a month and to $4.73 for a residential customer using 15,000 gallons.

A typical commercial customer using 100,000 gallons will see an increase of $26.55 a month, while an industrial customer using 10 million gallons will see the bill rise by $2,489.

Public Works Director Alan King said this year marked the end of a five-year plan to rebalance rates so that residential and business customers equitably share the costs of running the water system. The plan was undertaken after a study found that home customers were bearing a disparate share of the cost, effectively subsidizing business use.

“That gap has closed,” King said.

In addition to the rate increases, Tuesday’s council action will allow the department to charge for costs when a customer’s bill is in arrears and sent to a collection agency, King said.

King said capital improvements to the water system are driving higher rates, and he warned that the council will be dealing with new cost projections next year that could result in bigger increases.

City officials defended the rate increase, saying the cost of water in Wichita is still well below the average for the nation’s 50 largest cities.

Council member James Clendenin said he did a quick calculation and determined that a small user gets water for about a penny a gallon.

“Thank you for helping us to make sure we can drink water and flush toilets in our city,” he told King.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas

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