South Bend proposes increase in water/sewer rates

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Flushing the toilet, taking a long shower, or brushing your teeth, these are all common luxuries that may now cost South Bend residents a little bit more.

The sewer system in South Bend is very old, some of it dates back to the 1800s.

Now the federal government says the city needs to fix it.

The city plans to fund the project by raising water/sewer rates. Resident Carol Thompson wants the city to find another way to fund it.

"I got some information in the mail from South Bend Water Works. I opened it up and thought, this is strange. What is this? And it was rather shocking to be perfectly honest," said Thompson.

She is shocked by the proposed new rates.

Right now she's paying $59 a month for her one-inch meter.

Her bill will be $84 a month by 2017 - just for the base charge.

"I have an understanding that there are some EPA standards that need to be met which I think is very appropriate actually," said Thompson.

She's right. South Bend is one of many cities that is required by the EPA to fix its problem of wastewater overflow.

It's a health hazard.

Council Member Tim Scott says the city can't push off any longer.

"The storm water and the sewers are all in the same pipe and when there's an overflow it goes into the river system," said Scott.

Thompson agrees the problem needs to be fixed, but says hitting the residents with more bills can't be the only option.

Research shows rates have increased anywhere from 24 percent back in 2003 to 15 percent in 2007 and 9 percent during the past 5 years.

"When you have a challenging situation sometimes the easiest answer is the one that people tend to gravitate toward, which in this case is just okay let's just raise and make everybody pay more for it," said Thompson.

The council is looking into alternative solutions

"Some council members who are concerned have asked the administration to look at other funding sources," said Scott.

Scott says they won't be voting on this issue at Monday's common council meeting, but they do want the public to show up and voice their opinions on these proposed new rates.

That meeting is Monday at 7pm in the County-City Building.


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