Water rates to climb in Wyandotte

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Wyandotte Municipal Services customers will soon see their water rates go up.

Starting Oct. 1, rates will climb to $1.27 per kilogallon, a $0.10 increase per kilogallon, which would result in about a $0.60 monthly increase for the average consumer, WMS General Manager Melanie McCoy said at a city council meeting Monday.

The increase is due partially to rising costs for the department, along with declining usage as customers switch to water-efficient appliances, McCoy said. Water sales fell 6 percent from last year, and she projects the department will break even on its expenses versus income this year.

The costs of federally-mandated sampling for pharmaceuticals in the water also have risen, from $5,000 annually four years ago to current costs of $20,000 annually with no federal funding.

Councilman Leonard Sabuda urged McCoy and Water Department Superintendent Bill Weirich to continue searching for nearby cities to sell water to, in an effort to defray costs to the customers.

“They don’t want those big water bills and by increasing the water bills, we’re putting that back on their shoulders,” Sabuda said. “It would be nice if we had some outside help offering our water for sale.”

The rate hike was delayed three years after a 2009 review by Findlay, Ohio-based public utility consultants Courtney and Associates recommended it because of other cost-controlling measures WMS implemented, including reductions in overtime and a 40 percent drop in chemicals, including fluoride, in the water.

Fluoride amounts were dropped from 2 to 0.7 milligrams per liter, resulting in a 50 percent savings on fluoride costs. Weirich said a debate on the chemical’s tooth decay prevention benefits versus its possible health risks persuaded WMS to voluntarily drop the levels. Fluoride has been linked to several diseases, including hypothyroidism.

“You ask dentists, they want it,” Weirich said. “You ask doctors, they say it’s bad for you, so we took the initiative to drop it in half so you get the decay prevention, but you don’t have to worry about it so much on the health side.”