Fort Wayne proposes water rate hike to replace aged pipes

Local News

The city of Fort Wayne will attempt to raise water rates in an effort to replaces miles of aged water mains throughout the city, officials announced Thursday.

In a press conference, City Utilities officials proposed an annual rate hike of 5.8 percent annually to fund the replacement of 70 miles of water mains. The city said the priority areas will be those that have seen more than 1,500 water main breaks over the last several years.

Question: What are the proposed rates?

Answer: Rates hikes will be phased in over a 5-year period, beginning next year, officials explained. The average customer using 4,000 gallons of water will pay $1.34 more per month in 2019, $1.43 more in 2020, $1.53 more in 2021 $1.57 more in 2022 and $1.67 more in 2023. That makes the monthly bill each month $24.12 in 2019, $25.55 in 2020, $27.08 in 2021, $28.65 in 2022 and $30.32 in 2023.

“What we’re asking for is a $1.50 on average per month over the next five years and that’s about the price that you pay for a bottle of water at the gas station,” explained Kumar Menon, director of city utilities. “For that small price, we can give you peace of mind and the security of knowing your work, your school, your restaurant, your place of entertainment, your hospital, your churches stay in service.”

City Utilities officials said even with the rate hikes, rates in Fort Wayne will “still be lower than about half of the communities in Indiana.”

Question: How much is the 5-year plan going to cost?

Answer: The five-year plan will cost $145 million. Once the rate hike reaches its completion in 2023, residents will be contributing $30 million a year to that cost

The proposal must be approved locally then will be submitted to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) for review. A series of local meetings will be held throughout the month, officials said.

The plan comes in the wake of a series of water main breaks throughout Fort Wayne which have exposed the city’s aging infrastructure.

Question: Are there any areas of priority?

Answer: There are 14 trouble areas the city will focus on. The top spot is the Anthony and McKinnie area which has seen 169 breaks in the last several years. Other priorities are Crestwood Colony Phase 1 with 134 breaks, the Wildwood Area with 125 breaks, the Bullerman and Oakhurst area with 122 breaks.

Question: How will Fort Wayne’s water rates compare to other cities?

Answer: Each year the IURC conducts a water bill analysis of utilities under its jurisdiction.  The most recent analysis completed in January of 2018 breaks out the average monthly bill for a customer using 5,000 gallons. The following table shows how Fort Wayne compares to several other water utilities. It’s important to note that not all municipalities in Indiana are under the IURC’s jurisdiction.

Utility NameAverage Monthly Bill for 5,000 gallons
Bloomington $26.50
Evansville $32.54
Fort Wayne$25.55
South Bend$15.34
West Lafayette$42.95

To view the complete 2018 Water Bill Analysis, click here. 

Question: When was the last water rate increase?

Answer: The last water rate increases were in 2012 and 2006.

Question: When will a decision be made on the new rates?

Answer: City utilities’ five-year plan will be proposed to city council this Tuesday. Council will take a vote on it June 26.

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