Official website of the Village of New Athens, Illinois
618-475-2144 | 905 Spotsylvania Street, New Athens, IL 62264

New Athens, Illinois

Public Hearing – Proposed water and sewer rate increase.

Overview

The purpose of the hearing is to convey information to the citizens regarding a proposed water and sewer rate increase and to receive comments and questions from the citizens regarding the proposed increases. 

 

The Village purchases treated water from Kaskaskia Water District (KWD), a Public Water District operating in accordance with the Public Water District Act (70 ILCS 3705).  The Village distributes the purchased water to customers, primarily within the corporate limits, though a system of water lines.  These  lines were primarily cast iron, ductile iron or asbestos cement and for the most part are original lines that were built in the 1930’s.  Therefore, maintaining the lines is expensive.

 

Part of the Village’s infrastructure includes a sewer system and treatment plant.  A replacement treatment plant was built in 2012 to comply with Illinois EPA regulations The new plant cost was financed with a loan from the Illinois EPA and has a twenty-year term and will be paid off in 2033.  Current payments of $145,000 per year is paid through the Village Water and Sewer Fund.  Sewer plants are estimated to have a useful life of forty years if they maintain the capacity to meet the demand for treatment services.

 

The Tree Underground…

Tree roots are not visible, usually misunderstood and certainly not appreciated very much.  Most favorable growing conditions are in the upper profile of soil; moisture and nutrients are first available near the surface in water and nutrient cycling. Roots extend laterally for considerable distances. Root systems may occupy an area four to seven times the surface area occupied by the crown of the tree. 

 

Roots will seek favorable growing conditions such as moisture and nutrients.  Exactly what is in our water and sewer lines.  The old lines have cracks which the roots will seep into and grow.  This creates clogged sewers and broken sewer and water lines. 

 

The long-term solution is replacing old water lines with new polyvinyl chloride (PVC) water lines. Sewer lines are repaired by replacing old sewer lines with new PVC pipe or relining the old sewers where possible with a Cured-In-Place Liner that fits inside the existing pipe.

 

What is the Village Doing Now about the Problem?

The village has been fortunate enough to received annual grants for several years from the St. Clair Intergovernmental Grant program (Community Block Grant) for around $60,000 per year which has been used to reline sewer lines.  This is a means tested grant whereby the location of the project must be in a low to medium income area.  Originally, this was only a certain portion of the community.  It is now our understanding that it is the entire community.  The grant does not include engineering cost which is substantial.  If the current program is all we do, it will take 50 years ($3 million divided by $60 thousand) to have an ultimate solution.

 

What are other communities doing to solve Aging Infrastructure Problems?

Marissa, population of 1,410 (2019) replaced 42,000 feet of water main for $1.6 million dollars in 2012, this was approximately 80% of their water system.  They replaced 18,000 feet of sewer main where it was determined they could not reline them for $1.2 million and relined 17,000 feet of sewer main with cured-in-place liner for $420 thousand. This was approximately 85% of their sewer system They received a loan from the Rural Development Authority of which 30% of the loan was forgiven with a grant.  How can they afford the payments, and we cannot?  Marissa has a profitable proprietary enterprise fund entitled waste removal service which subsidizes their water and sewer fund. 

 

Freeburg, population 4,361 (2019) is proposing a new $11.5 million sewer treatment plant.  Freeburg has a great traffic count on Route 15 going through the middle of their community, therefore, they have a robust retail sales market with substantial sales tax revenue.  The citizens average monthly sewer service rate is increasing  from $26.00 per month to $50.00 per month.

 

What is the Village’s Approach to developing a Plan for the Future?

A flexible plan must be developed to provide a minimum acceptable level of water and sewer service.  Part of the plan must be to establish a formal routine sewer maintenance program that would include periodic regular inspection and cleaning of the sewer system.  This preventative maintenance cost will be compared to the debt service cost on relined or slip lined sewer lines. 

 

What is Happening to Water Rates?  In the past ten years, the village water price from KWD has increased 50.00%, including the July 1, 2021, increase.  28.57% of that increase has been in the last three years.

 

What is happening to Sewer and Water Line maintenance cost? 

This cost is increasing approximately 10.00% per year.

 

How Much is the Proposed Water and Sewer Rate Increase?

The village is proposing to increase the water rates by 12.50% and the Sewer rates by 5.00%, This will equate to a 9.10% to 9.14% combined increase for water and sewer.

Public Comments

Public commenting will close 60-days following publication.

2 Responses

  1. If we are getting an increase in our water bills for fixing the issues, then can we make sure our water bills are read correctly every month. Mine jumps from 80 to 180 in a month and nothing has changed. Can we fix that?

  2. Kara,
    I do not believe the issue is incorrectly reading the water bills. They are recorded digitally. What is confusing is the charges on the bills are calculated and rounded to the previous thousand gallons. Therefore, in one month if you use 3,999 gallons, you will be billed for 3,000 gallons. The next month if you use 1 gallon, you will be billed for 1,000 gallons. Thanks for your inquiry

    Mayor Joe

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