Water bills expected to increase by $7.44 per quarter next month

Waukesha Freeman
May 15, 2018
By Cara Spoto

Waukesha — Alderman on Tuesday will give their final consideration of a plan to add “return flow” charges to water and sewer bills next month, that if approved, could see the average residential bill increase by $7.44 a quarter.

The proposal for the new charge is part of the Lake Michigan diversion project. It is being added to pay for a $125.6 million pipeline that will return up to 8.2 million gallons of lake water Waukesha expects to use daily back to the lake.

It calls for adding a 62-cent return flow volume charge for each 1,000 gallons consumed, beginning June 1.

The added line item, which has received support from the Waukesha Water Commission and the Board of Public Works, is expected to put $700,000 of revenue into the budget for the remaining seven months of the year.

Although construction on the 15-mile pipeline is not expected to begin until 2020, utility officials are in the early stages of designing and permitting the return flow infrastructure. Early this month, the utility took out $16.6 million in anticipation notes to fund the improvements.

Utility staffers have said the intent is to implement rate increases in a series of gradual steps so users are not met with a sizable wallop all at once.

According to utility projects, the return flow charge is expected to increase to $1.84 per 1,000 gallons of water consumed next year, or about $22.19 per quarter for an average residential user. Regular sewer and water rates are also expected to increase gradually over the next five years, with average quarterly bills for water, sewer and return flow charges projected to total $324 by the year 2023.

The Common Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 201 Delafield St.

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