April 24, 2014

Elyria
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Lorain sewer rates to go up 8% annually starting in January

LORAIN — The price of flood prevention and clean water is a series of sewer rate hikes beginning in January.

The average monthly bill will increase from $34.80 to $37.58, about an 8 percent increase, according to Malcolm Pirnie, the environmental consulting company hired by city officials.

Approximately 8 percent annual increases also will occur in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Increases will average about 1.5 percent in 2016 through 2020.

The City Council in July approved the increases to pay for a $44 million underground tunnel mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help the city comply with the 1972 Clean Water Act.

The tunnel is the last of 16 projects that were part of a 1998 consent decree between the EPA and Lorain, according to Utilities Director Corey Timko.

Construction of the tunnel — built to hold 12 million gallons of water and prevent sewage overflow into the Black River — is scheduled to begin next year and conclude in 2015, Timko said.

The tunnel is to stretch from the Lorain Pellet Terminal at 230 N. Broadway to W. 14th St.
City officials opted to keep rate increases smaller by beginning them before the tunnel was built rather than with one large increase after project completion, Timko said.

“Most politicians want to keep them as small as possible,” he said. “And they want them to happen no sooner than necessary.”

Timko said Lorain has been more proactive in complying with federal clean water laws than some area communities despite fiscal constraints.

“In fact, a lot of leaders from other cities call me for advice because they’re not as far down the process as we are,” he said. “Lorain should be proud of that.”

Sewer rate increases

Sewer rate increases begin in January to pay for a $44 million underground tunnel designed to prevent flooding and pollution of the Black River. Average monthly rates will increase between about 1.5 percent and 8 percent for nine years.

  • 2011: $34.80
  • 2012: $37.58 — 8.05 percent
  • 2013: $40.59 — 7.87 percent
  • 2014: $43.84 — 8.09 percent
  • 2015: $47.35 — 8.03 percent
  • 2016: $48.06 — 1.52 percent
  • 2017: $48.78 — 1.50 percent
  • 2018: $49.51 — 1.48 percent
  • 2019: $50.25 — 1.45 percent
  • 2020: $51.00 — 1.59 percent

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.