FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne Public Works officials have moved forward with a plan to improve the city’s sewer system, and it would hike residential sewer bills.
The Board of Public Works on Tuesday approved a funding ordinance of $380 million “to protect our rivers, support our neighborhoods and prepare the community for the future” over the next six years.
The plan calls for a rate adjustment of about 5 percent in each of the next five years to fund the improvements, which are mandated by the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency. They are not funded by the federal government.
Among the improvements required:
- Repair and rehab aging sewer pipes
- Maintain the system for reliability
- Eliminate sanitary sewer overflows
- Reduce sewer backups
- Establish the Long Term Control Plan to reduce significantly the number of combined sewer overflows that were occurring 71 times a year (requirement allows no more than an average of one on the St. Joseph River and no more than four on the St. Marys and Maumee per year, when the plan reaches completion in 2025)
The long-term Control Plan, an 18-year strategy, called for a reduction in sewer overflows through sewer separation, an increase in treatment system capacity by upgrades to treat more and store more sewage, and the ability to collect more combined sewage with system expansion. That includes the creation of the city’s the Deep Rock Tunnel.
Public Works said $245 million of the $380 million in sewer system improvements will be done in neighborhoods around the city. That includes the completion and implementation of neighborhood drop shafts, consolidation sewers, and the Deep Rock tunnel, a new pump station at the sewer plant, more than 50 miles of sewer rehab lining, new pipes for capacity improvements and meter upgrades.
The rate payers will foot the bill, as City Utilities is funded by the user fees paid for sewer service and usage. The rate structure, which will support work in 2020 through 2024, calls for an increase of about 5 percent each year during the next five years.
That means, the typical Fort Wayne residential sewer bill will grow from $43.64 in 2020 to $53.69 in 2024.
The funding ordinance must still be approved by Fort Wayne City Council next month.
In the meantime, Fort Wayne City Utilities will host informational meetings to update residents on the federally mandated sewer improvement progress and discuss work and funding for the last phase of the 18-year plan. The meetings will be held:
- January 30 at 6 p.m. in the Omni Room in the basement of Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St. (parking in lot north of the building)
- Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. at Bishop Luers High School in the Media Center, 333 E. Paulding Road (Enter Door No. 1)
- Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. in the Omni Room in the basement of Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St. (parking in lot north of the building)