Rapid City water bills to increase 43 percent over 5 years

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Rapid City residents will see their water rates increase beginning in January 2018.

The Rapid City Common Council voted to approve a rate hike for fresh water and wastewater to fix the city’s water management systems, some of which date back to the 1960s.

Rapid City water bills will increase 43 percent over the next 5 years as part of a capital improvement plan which aims to build up a reserve in case of unexpected breaks or incidents in the city’s water pipes. Residents will see fresh water prices increase by $2 and sewage prices increase by $1.50 in January.

Council members Becky Drury and John Roberts voted against the increase, saying the hike was too much for low income residents. Drury expressed interest in a 10-year plan which would increase at a slower rate. Some city council members said the increase was necessary because the the last water rate increase was in January 2013.

In a conversation with NewsCenter1, Dan Coon, the city operations management engineer for Rapid City said the rate hikes were necessary for the future of Rapid City.

“Safe, reliable, and environmentally sound water and wastewater service to this community is vitally important to the economic wellbeing of the community, the public health, and the safety and wellbeing of its citizens,” Coon said. “Without those two services, Rapid City cannot be the city that it is.”

The rate hike won’t be the only increase to water bills, however. Officials say in 5 to 10 years, the Mountain View Water Treatment Plant which was built in the 1960’s will need to be replaced in accordance with regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency. Experts have not estimated the cost or the size of the new facility.  

Some residents also questioned the possibility of installing different water meters for different uses. According to Coon, the city offers split-meter options for some commercial businesses that use water for large scale irrigation. For residents however, it is not feasible economically unless they have a large yard to water.  

Officials have also announced a program to assist residents who struggle to pay their bills under the new increase. DETAILS

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