Water and sewer rates to increase July 1

Increases of 4 percent in water rates and 12 percent in wastewater rates were recommended to Fayetteville Public Utilities by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS), the agency that provides technical assistance to city municipal systems like Fayetteville Public Utilities and conducts annual rate studies weighing the system’s operational costs against its revenues.

FPU’s Water and wastewater rate increases will be effective on July 1.

Under the new rate structure for FPU water and wastewater services, the average residential water bill for customers inside the city, based on 5,000 gallons of usage, will be $29.57, up from the average of $28.44 currently. Wastewater rates based on the same 5,000 gallon average bill will be $42.84, up from the current average of $38.26. The minimum residential water bill for customers inside the city, based on a minimum of 100 cubic feet usage, will increase from $8.32 to $8.65, while the minimum residential sewer bill will increase from $11.20 to $12.54.

“Costs continue to rise for engineering, construction, maintenance, and upgrades of Fayetteville Public Utilities’ water and wastewater infrastructure,” says Britt Dye, FPU’s CEO and General Manager. “Replacement and rehabilitation of the aging infrastructure will involve a great deal of capital investment now and in the near future.”

“Over the past several years, FPU has made significant strides in repairing and replacing pump stations, lift stations, distribution lines and more in efforts to improve the system’s operation,” says Dye. “But it’s an ongoing process. Much of the water and wastewater infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life, so we continue to address the most pressing maintenance issues first to prevent any threat of system failure.”

In recent years, Fayetteville Public Utilities has received liftings of a moratorium that was placed on the west and south sides of the city. The liftings were granted as a result of the utility’s wastewater system improvements. FPU must continue to make improvements to its wastewater system to be able to continue adding new sewer services to accommodate residential and commercial growth.

Aging water and wastewater infrastructure is not unique to Fayetteville. Many of Tennessee’s city municipalities are coping with similar issues - most of them having constructed plant facilities and installed water and sewer lines in the same decade as FPU.

“Water and wastewater services are very critical to our community’s public health, safety, and quality of life,” says Dye. “Stricter environmental regulations and requirements force utilities to raise the bar when it comes to water quality and wastewater treatment. It is very important that we expect clean and safe drinking water from our taps and our wastewater is collected, treated, and reintroduced into the watershed Because of the stricter regulations, FPU must do what is necessary to meet those requirements. And along with those requirements many times come added expense.”

In the new fiscal year’s budget, FPU has planned for a number of capital improvements for the water and wastewater departments. Engineering has begun for a new water treatment plant at the Eldad Road facility. Other improvements include replacing the

Howell and Holman Hill water storage tanks and continuing to upgrade water pump stations and infrastructure to enhance flow and pressure inside the city.

MTAS is an Institute for Public Service operating under the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. It provides technical assistance to city municipal systems like Fayetteville Public Utilities and conducts annual rate studies weighing the system’s operational costs against its revenues. MTAS utility consultants provide assistance in Utility Finance, Plant Operations, Management, and Utility Ordinances. Services include utility rate studies in water, wastewater and natural gas, water and wastewater plant operations and optimization, regulatory assistance, sludge disposal, unaccounted for water reduction, inflow and infiltration reduction, industrial pretreatment permitting, and utility management.

FPU last increased water and wastewater rates in 2011 at the advice of MTAS. The official report from MTAS states that Fayetteville Public Utilities would need to pass the 2011 and 2012 water and wastewater increases along with similar rate increases over the next three years to improve its financial standing and help secure future facility operations.