Water, sewer rates to increase for Williamsport Municipal Water customers July 1
The 51,000 customers of the Williamsport Municipal Water and Williamsport Sanitary Authority will see rate increases for water and sewage starting on July 1 and also many improvements to their delivery of water and discharge of sewer as the authorities proactively address older mains and keep operational systems well-functioning.
Some 20,000 accounts in Williamsport, Old Lycoming Township, Loyalsock Township, Woodward Township, Armstrong Township, South Williamsport and DuBoistown will see the adjustments in their bills following the authority boards adopting budgets and setting rates for the fiscal year 2023, said Michael D. Miller, the authorities’ executive director.
This year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30.
Water rates will increase by 5% while sewer rates go up 4%, he said.
That will be $6.75 per 1,000 gallons of water and $13.85 per 1,000 gallons of sewage and will be effective on all billings after July 1.
“We continue to provide among the lowest rates for water and sewer service in the state,” Miller said.
It equates to $14 more per year for water and $20 more per year for sewer, he said.
The 5% water rate increase costs the average home which uses 40,000 gallons of water a year an extra $13.60 per year. The 4% sewage rate increase will cost an extra $19.44 per year and is based on 36,000 gallons per year for the average home, he said.
Significant drivers for the authorities’ rate increases stem from inflation.
The cost of chemicals used to treat water and sewage have increased by 50%.
Aggregate electrical costs have increased about 45%. The sanitary authority is a particularly heavy user of electricity due to pumps and machinery needed to convey and treat it.
Material costs have increased by 20%. These include pipes, meters and essential construction items which are needed to keep the system in good operating condition.
Due to continuous inflationary pressure, the authorities are forced to keep pace to continue to provide these essential services to residential, commercial, industrial and nonprofit customers.
The authorities continue to complete and plan capital projects to assure reliable and well-functioning systems. Grants often supplement revenue to complete these projects — and that saves ratepayers cost, too.
The water authority has proactively addressed priority water mains through capital projects. It has asked the City of Williamsport’s administration of Mayor Derek Slaughter and its Williamsport City Council to include a portion of American Rescue Plan funds for water main and capital projects.
The council has included these in its public works budget, a flexible document that continues to be a guidepost for the eventual allocation of these funds, which must be done by the end of 2024 and spent by 2026, according to the U.S. Treasury guidelines on ARPA.
Prior work done and more anticipated
Over the past two years, a total of about $3.2 million has been spent on about 3 miles of water main replacements with an additional $3.5 million allocated for about 3.1 miles of water main scheduled to be replaced over the next year.
Additionally, the water authority replaced a 25-year-old deteriorating cover on a 4 million gallon potable water reservoir costing about $550,000.
The water authority also expected to spend about $3.5 million on needed modifications at the two primary water source reservoirs. Each reservoir contains about 530 million gallons of water.
Similarly, the sanitary authority is addressing its sanitary mains through capital projects.
A total of about $625,000 was spent on cement lining about 1,160 linear feet of 4-feet diameter brick sewer main.
An additional $900,000 was spent on lining about 4.5 miles of 8-inch to 15-inch diameter sanitary mains this past year.
Further, $1.25 million has been allocated to line about three miles of 8-inch to 24-inch diameter sanitary main.
The authority anticipates spending about $1.6 million on replacing equipment at one of the sanitary treatment plans over the next two years.
“We are bundling these projects,” said Eric J. Smithgall, the authority director of engineering. That means if a project is done by a contractor in Loyalsock Township work by the contractor will be done in neighboring municipalities about the same time.
Authority members have attended the Council public works committees to closely coordinate with public works employees in advance of any utility work and paving and share those responsibilities and not have a project area dug up only to have it need to be repaved, costing time and money.
The authority continues to modernize its Central and West treatment plants.
Also, the authority is working with Keller Partners and Co., a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist and consulting firm that is doing work with Lycoming County and city.
It is seeking a High Hazard Potential Dam grant for the Heller Reservoir for construction costs related to structural deficiencies at the dam. If that would fail it would impact the borough of South Williamsport, Miller said.
In the near future, the authority staff said it will be discussing stormwater management as it took over that role and continues to formulate its plan on rain water runoff for customers.