Water rates up 14%; sewer rates up 20% by Nov. 1

In the September 23rd board meeting, Fayetteville Public Utilities approved rate increases for its water and sewer services. Fayetteville Public Utilities will be increasing rates by 14% on water and 20% on sewer services. These increases apply to all Fayetteville Public Utilities water and sewer customers whether residential or commercial, inside or outside the city and will become effective on Nov. 1.

For the average household using 5,000 gallons each of water and sewer services, the monthly increases result in an average $3.20 more on water bills and $5.33 on sewer bills. Based on the 5,000 gallon average, residential water bills will go from $23.03 per month to $26.23. Residential sewer bills will increase from $26.61 to $31.94 per month. The minimum bill amount for customers now paying $7 per month will see their bills go to $7.98 for water and from $7 to $8.40 for sewer service.

"We've faced tremendous expenses over the past couple of years as we work to correct problems with both the water and sewer system, make necessary repairs to lift the moratorium placed on our sewer system and bring our facilities improved operation and technology," says Britt Dye, Fayetteville Public Utilities' CEO and General Manager.  "We've faced real concerns in recent months with the condition of our water and sewer system," says Dye. "It's no secret that some of these costs are due to emergency maintenance for leaks and repairs - that's normal for any water system. What we are concerned with most is the long-term operation of these treatment facilities as our current system must meet higher standards for water and wastewater treatment as passed down by the state."

"Fayetteville has many water mains and service lines that have been in the ground for 50 years or more. We're at the point now that system maintenance is a must if we're going to provide the quality of service we're capable of providing our customers."

"We have already made great strides in system improvements for our water and sewer system, but much needed work lies ahead," says Dye. "We have completed the upgrades for the Laten Bottom, Pitts, Liberty and Hardees Lift Stations. We have also begun the installation new monitoring and communication devices at each station to relay vital information to our office where dispatchers and department employees can accurately monitor and record water tank levels day and night."

In addition to the lift stations, new water and sewer lines have been installed in various locations to improve and extend services.

"When we completed our latest rate study through MTAS (the Municipal Technical Advisory Service) we carefully weighed our system operational costs against our revenues," says Dye. "We began working with MTAS back in January and have labored over the best approach to addressing our current rate situation. We trust that with all that we have planned for system improvements and customer growth that we are moving in the right direction."

Dye further stated that the last water and sewer rate adjustment was in Oct. 2007, and prior to that, in 2002.  

In addition to the work already completed earlier this year to improve conditions of Fayetteville's sewer system, the City of Fayetteville and Fayetteville Public Utilities were recently approved for a $2.6 million bond issuance for more water and sewer improvements for the utility's Phase 3 work plan. This plan will require the $2.6 million in loan funds as well as the $660,000 grant obtained through Rural Development. The Phase 3 plan includes repairs to the Howell Water Storage Tank, the replacement of the two Holman Hill Water Storage Tanks to improve pressure and flow, along with several other water system improvements to enhance flow and pressure in the areas of Eldad Road, Thornton Taylor Parkway, Brookside Drive, Cotton Mill Road, Shelbyville Highway, Providence Road and Badenhop Boulevard. The plan also includes a water line extension along March Mill Road and upgrades to the Elk River Water Treatment Plant lagoons.

"We are well on our way to bringing our water and sewer facilities where they need to be in order to better provide service to this community," says Dye. "We all agree that there is a cost associated with quality, dependable service and meeting the growing needs of our customers.  Our commitment at FPU is to always do what's right for the customer, and when we are faced with issues of system maintenance in order to protect the quality of service we provided, we will do all within our power to control costs while keeping you informed of how it affects you as a rate payer. "