GREENWOOD — Customers of Indiana American Water will need to reach a bit deeper into their pockets soon when it comes time to pay the monthly water bill.
The utility, which serves much of the area outside Indianapolis, will raise rates in May 5.79 percent. That's on top of a 1.99 percent increase last July. The total rate hike comes to just under eight percent. It was approved as a two-step process by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission last year.
Why the higher bills? American Water President Matt Prine says the additional revenue will pay for more than $542 million of infrastructure improvements. About $79 million is going toward improvements to three water treatment facilities. "Indiana American Water has made significant investments in aging infrastructure and its treatment and distribution facilities to ensure service reliability, water quality and fire protection for the more than 1.3 million people who depend on us every day,” said Prine.
“We have also worked hard to hold our operating and maintenance expenses relatively flat by implementing efficiencies and leveraging technology and innovation throughout the workplace,” said Prine. “During the period covered in our rate request, our O&M expenses increased at a rate below the inflation rate over the last decade."
Indiana American Water highlighted some of the upgrades:
- Significant system upgrades at three water treatment facilities located in Kokomo, Richmond and Muncie to meet more stringent water quality regulations associated with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Long Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule.
- Building a new water treatment facility in Noblesville, one of the company’s fastest growing service areas.
- Replacing or upgrading more than a dozen wells, several pumping stations, water filters, large diameter water mains, and other critical facilities serving customers in service areas throughout the state.
- Replacing and/or retiring from service more than 13,000 lead service lines.
In addition to these major projects, Indiana American Water replaced nearly 120 miles of aging water mains.
For some customers, the higher rates may be difficult to swallow for a family struggling with finances due to COVID-19.
To help, Indiana American Water says it has suspended all billing-related service shutoffs, suspended billing late fees and has restored water service for customers previously turned off.
For any customers that may be experiencing financial hardship, the company encourages them to call 1-800-492-8373 to discuss their eligibility to enter into a payment arrangement.