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Rincon’s water and sewer rates going up

POSTED: June 16, 2011 8:17 p.m.

Rincon water and sewer customers will be paying a little more starting Aug. 1.

City council members approved a base charge of $9 for the first 3,000 gallons for residential water customers inside the city limits.

That rate is going up a dollar for 2011. Water rates are going up from $1.75 to $2 per 1,000 gallons for usage from 3,001 to 9,000 gallons a month. The top rate is $4 per 1,000 gallons after 45,001 gallons.

For commercial customers inside the city limits, the base water charge will go from $22 to $23 for the first 3,000 gallons used.

Residential customers outside the city limits will have their base rate for the first 3,000 gallons rise from $14 to $15. Their rates per 1,000 gallons for 3,001 to 9,000 gallons used will rise from $2.75 to $3.

The base rates are figured on an average household use of 300 gallons per day.

The base charge for sewer service, for the first 3,000 gallons, will go from $14 to $16 per month. From 3,001 to 9,000 gallons, the rate goes up $2.25 per 1,000 gallons, and $3 per 1,000 gallons for 9,001 to 15,000 gallons. The top rate for residential customers inside the city limits is $4.20 per 1,000 gallons, for 45,001 and above in usage.

For commercial users inside the city limits, the base rate for the first 3,000 gallons is $26, up from $24.

Sewage rates went up last year, but the base rate for water has not changed in 15 years, said City Manager Mike Phillips, even with all the improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.

“We have projects and potential projects that we have to have covered,” he said.

Council members also discussed how to impress water conservation upon customers.

“The only way to get people not to water their lawns seven days a week is to get them in the pocketbook,” council member Frank Owens said.

The increased rates first were scheduled to go into effect July 1 but council members asked to push the increase back a month in order to have customers prepared for the hike.

“I understand the rate increase,” council member Ken Baxley said. “But we’re talking about giving citizens a notice of 17 days.”

Baxley also said he would like to see how many customers are using less than 5,000 gallons per month.

City finance director Wesley Corbitt said the city is losing money on the sewage side but with a 5 percent growth projection, it could generate $100,000 in revenue.

Council members held off on a proposal from Carter and Sloope to proceed on items on a lower Floridan aquifer well. Andy Seaver of Carter and Sloope, a Macon-based engineering firm, asked council members for the go-ahead to pre-apply for Georgia Environmental Finance Authority funding. GEFA has given the firm notice that they are delaying the deadline for pre-application to June 30.

“We’re kinda back to where we were last month,” Seaver said.

Initial planning on the well began in 2003, and the city has been under a consent order from the state Environmental Protection Division to limit its withdrawals from the upper Floridan aquifer. Rincon purchases drinking water from Savannah Industrial and Domestic through Effingham County in order to preserve the water in the upper Floridan aquifer. Withdrawals from that layer of water, in other areas of the Coastal Empire and South Carolina Lowcountry, are believed to have led to salt water intrusion.

Rincon’s well on the north side of the city was thought to be in the upper Floridan aquifer but instead appears to be in the lower Flordian aquifer, which has less restrictions placed upon it.

“You’ve done all the work,” Seaver told council members. “They can’t argue the lower Floridan is not a viable source, right here at your back door.”

Work on the reuse irrigation system at Lost Plantation Golf Club is continuing, with the front nine holes now open for play and the back nine closed as pipes are installed. Once finished, the golf course will use reuse water from the city’s wastewater treatment plant for irrigation.

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