Wichita water and sewer customers could see a 5% increase on their bills next year.
The city of Wichita is proposing rate increases for Wichita water and sewer service in 2024 to help pay for major projects, including a new water treatment plant and improvements to the city’s wastewater plants.
Under the proposal, which the Wichita City Council is expected to approve on Tuesday, residential water and sewer customers would pay an extra $2.40 to $7.86 each month, depending on how much water they use. Water rates will increase by 6.24% and sewer rates will increase by 3% — an overall increase of 5%.
For low-use water customers who use about 3,750 gallons of water a month, the average monthly water and sewer bill would climb from $56.83 a month to $59.23, a $2.40 a month or $28.80 a year increase.
Mid-use water customers who use about 7,500 gallons a month would see increases from $84.20 a month to $87.84, a $3.63 increase each month or $43.56 a year.
High-use customers who use 15,000 gallons would see their bills jump from $161.00 to $168.69 a month, a $7.68 increase each month or $92.16 a year.
Wichita’s aging water and sewer utilities are in such poor shape that the Environmental Protection Agency approved the city for low-interest WIFIA loans for a new water treatment facility and major upgrades to its sewage treatment plants. Without those loans, rate increases would be substantially higher, city officials have said.
The rate increase follows a plan presented to the Wichita City Council in 2019 that laid out rate increases for the next decade to pay for the $553 million Northwest Water Facility, which is expected to replace the city’s water treatment plant, and the $377 million Biological Nutrient Removal project aimed at improving the quality of treated wastewater the city releases into the Arkansas River south of Wichita.
The rate increases will also help the city pay for an additional $786 million in water and sewer infrastructure costs included in the 10-year capital improvement plan.
Wichita’s sole water treatment plant and its distribution lines are aging and fragile pieces of essential infrastructure that have been flirting with disaster for several years. Wichita has been under two boil-water advisories in the past three years due to failures.
A new water treatment plant is scheduled to come online in 2025.