Adair County residents are facing a 20 percent rate increase in their water bill, pending approval from the Public Service Commission.
The Adair County Water District is submitting a petition for a rate increase to the PSC tomorrow. The funds from the rate increase will help pay for different projects throughout the county including downtown Columbia, Knifley and Sparksville, according to Adair County Water District manager Lenny Stone.
The amount of rate increase will depend on a customer’s water meter size. Around 90 percent of the water district’s customers (residential) have the same meter size (5/8’’ x ¾’’). Those customers will see at least a $4.55 increase in their bill.
Some farms and commercial property use a slightly larger meter size (2’’), which would results in at least a $22.35 increase in their bill.
Stone said this is the first time in two years and third time in 15 years they have increased rates.
“We want to keep our rates as low as possible,” Stone said.
They are encouraged to increase rates every year, but have decided in the past to only raise rates when they needed to, he continued.
The rate increase will help cover costs for four major projects including the Sparksville project, Breeding project, downtown project and generator project.
The Sparksville project includes adding a 12-inch line and a new water tank near the old Sparksville school.
In Breeding, Stone said they plan to add another water feed into the community. Currently Breeding only has one feed.
If something were to happen to that one line, the community wouldn’t have access to any water. A second line would provide backup.
Stone said they also plan to tear down older water tanks in Sparksville, Breeding and on Jones Chapel Road.
Other construction projects include the purchase and instillation of a generator at the water plant and replacing waterlines in the city limits of Columbia.
The water lines in the city have not been replaced and are more than 50 years old. Stone said they are being repaired on a daily basis because they are so old.
The water district has already received approval from USDA Rural Development. Once the PSC picks up the petition, they have 30 days to approve or deny the rate increase.
The PSC will consider if the rate increase is enough to cover costs or if the increase is too high.
The water district has been able to receive grant money through USDA Rural Development over the years, but grant money isn’t as readily available as it has been in years past.
Stone said a lot of the construction will be throughout the county, but it will appear as if they are working more on the downtown project in the city of Columbia.
“The city will be more noticed because it will be condensed,” Stone said.
Construction on the downtown project is set to begin in March depending on weather and the Breeding project is set to begin in the fall.
The Sparksville and generator projects are near completion.
By Allison Hollon