By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — Fresh, clean water is a precious commodity, and it’s likely to become more expensive in Anderson next year because of a major facility upgrade city officials are proposing.
Extensive engineering studies show that the Lafayette Water Treatment plant on Hartman Road has reached the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced, said Water Department Superintendent Tom Brewer.
Built in the mid-1960s, the Lafayette Treatment Plant requires constant and increasingly expensive repairs to keep it operational, he said. “As with a lot of our infrastructure, it has served us very well, but the reality is that it has reached the end of its useful life.”
In addition, some wells no longer operate, the plant’s treatment capacity is restricted because deteriorating equipment, and sections of the distribution system suffer from chronic leaks, and undersized and dilapidated water mains, Brewer said.
Improvements the water department are proposing include:
The combined total cost of these projects would be $14.3 million, according to Brewer and Deputy Mayor Pete Heuer.
To pay for these improvements, the department will request a rate increase, which will have to be approved by the Anderson City Council and Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The last increase was approved in 2006, and went into effect in early 2007, Heuer said.
Under the proposed rate plan, minimum users (up to 3,000 gallons of water per month), would see an increase of $6.26 in their monthly water charge.
Average users, (which is approximately 5,000 gallons of water per month), will see an increase of about $9.14 per month.
The current monthly bill for the average customer is $18.98 per month, and would rise to $27.88 under the new rate plan. The increases would affect all water users.
Despite the higher rates, Heuer said Anderson’s water rates would still be competitive with other communities around the state.
Although studies of how to address problems at the Lafayette Treatment Plant were well underway in January, the leak at the Wheeler Treatment Plant underscored the urgency of addressing water treatment problems.
What occurred in that case was that a World War II-era 24-inch main that feeds raw water from eight city wells — and supplies about 50 percent of Anderson’s daily water needs — through the Wheeler plant failed. Underneath that supply line was an equally large distribution line that carries treated, or finished, water to customers, which also failed.
At the highest rate, before engineers and construction workers could stanch the flow, each leak was sending about 2,000 gallons of water per hour cascading into the White River.
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