Utility bill heads up, but how high?

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WALLA WALLA -- At the current rate of funding, city officials report it will take 215 years to replace all municipal water and sewer lines, 82 percent of which are already at failing status.

The city is now proposing a goal to step up replacement work to a total of 93 years with its Infrastructure Sustainability Plan, which would increase water and sewer rates to pay for the work.

City officials say the average resident currently pays $95 monthly for city utilities; if the plan is approved, that average bill will go up to $142 per month by 2015.

But there is no guarantee that the average resident will pay no more than $142 in 2015.

Other factors will most likely increase that average bill well beyond $142. One of those factors is a microscopic disease-causing parasite known as Cryptosporidium.

The city is now facing an Environmental Protection Agency deadline in the next few years to upgrade its current ozone water treatment facility to meet tougher EPA standards.

The city's landfill might also face tougher standards, especially in relation to the types of landfill liners that are allowed. Fuel prices could see double-digit inflation on a regular basis.

The bottom line is if the Infrastructure Sustainability Plan is approved by the City Council, there is no guarantee that by 2015 the average resident will only pay $142 per month. About the only guarantee is that it won't be less.On Thursday, the City of Walla Walla will host the first of four public meetings for the proposed Infrastructure Sustainability Plan, held at The Center At The Park, 720 Sprague Street, Jefferson Park, 5:30 p.m. To help our readers know the issues surrounding this plan, the Union-Bulletin is running a series of short articles this week dealing with different aspects of it.

Editor's note

On Thursday, the City of Walla Walla will host the first of four public meetings for the proposed Infrastructure Sustainability Plan, held at The Center At The Park, 720 Sprague Street, Jefferson Park, 5:30 p.m. To help our readers know the issues surrounding this plan, the Union-Bulletin is running a series of short articles this week dealing with different aspects of it.

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