Iowa American Water on Friday filed an application with the Iowa Utilities Board requesting an increase in drinking water rates for customers in its Clinton and Iowa Quad-Cities service areas. If approved as requested, the increase will generate about $5.1 million in additional annual revenues for the company.
Iowa American Water officials said ongoing infrastructure investments, rising expenses related to water treatment and delivery systems, and increased operating costs are the main drivers behind the rate request.
The company’s request would increase a typical monthly residential water bill for a customer using 4,500 gallons per month by $4.84 from $30.19 to $35.03.
According to Randy Moore, president of Iowa American Water, “Proactive water system upgrades save money in the long run. By continually improving our water systems, we help reduce the frequency of service interruptions, prevent property damage from water main breaks and enhance fire protection.”
The need to upgrade water systems is not just an issue for Iowa American Water; it is a national issue, company officials say. The United States Environmental Protection Agency says the nation’s water utilities will need to make more than $335 billion in infrastructure investments over the next 20 years to replace aging water infrastructure and to comply with stricter water quality standards.Some of Iowa American Water’s largest projects and investments include:
• $8.2 million investment for normal, recurring installation and replacement of water pipelines, meters and hydrants in their service areas.
• $2.3 million investment on an improvement project at the Quad Cities East River Station treatment facility to enhance flocculation and clarification treatment capabilities and improve treatment efficiency and reliability.
• $2.1 million investment to upgrade 1.5 miles of 8-inch water main to 12-inch main to eliminate frequent main breaks located in a busy corridor of Davenport. The work will minimize service interruptions and increase water flow for firefighting.
• $1.1 million investment for maintenance to inspect, repair and re-paint the Ripley Street ground-level storage tank and the 60th Street elevated tank in Davenport and the Eagle Heights elevated tank in Clinton. The work extends the service life of the facilities and assures they remain in compliance with current Occupational Safety and Health Administration and state of Iowa standards.
• $680,000 investment to improve Well No. 9 in Clinton including a building addition that allows for proper containment and access to chemical feed and storage equipment. Benefits of the project include increased chemical safety and continued compliance with USEPA Groundwater Rule requirements.
• $581,000 investment to relocate 16-inch, 12-inch and 8-inch water main in conjunction with Davenport’s west side sewer separation project.
• $559,000 investment to replace small diameter mains in Clinton to improve the distribution system and fire protection, improve water quality and minimize service interruptions.
The water company cannot raise rates on its own. The IUB will conduct an extensive review of Iowa American Water’s rate application that includes thousands of pages of documentation to demonstrate that the request is just and reasonable. Because the IUB can take up to ten months for a decision to be rendered on the case, Iowa American Water has requested “interim” or temporary rates be granted while its request is fully reviewed. Temporary rates are subject to refund with interest if the IUB approves a final increase that is less than the temporary rates established.
“The regulatory process considers the needs of the customers and the company’s ability to reinvest in the community and to deliver dependable, quality water service,” said Moore. “Iowa American Water is widely recognized for meeting or surpassing all water quality standards established by both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.” Public hearings and opportunities for public comment are also part of the process, under the direction of the IUB.
After a thorough investigation, and changes which the IUB may order, final water rates may be different from the water rates proposed by Iowa-American Water. The IUB will also determine when the rates will become effective. If the final water rates are lower than the temporary water rates, Iowa-American will refund the difference to customers with interest.
Customers have the right to file a written comment or objection to this proposed increase with the IUB. All written comments should be addressed to: Iowa Utilities Board, 1375 E. Court Avenue, Room 69, Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0069. Comments may be submitted by email to email@example.com by using the comment form on the IUB’s Web site, http://iub.iowa.gov.
The IUB should be provided with any facts that would assist in determining a fair and reasonable outcome to the rate increase request. This information will be made available to the Office of Consumer Advocate, a division of the Iowa Department of Justice, which represents the public interest in rate cases before the IUB.
As part of this process, the IUB will hold the two customer comment meetings and additional meetings may be scheduled as public interest warrants.
The first one will be Tuesday, June 14, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Clinton Moose Lodge, 1936 Lincoln Way, Clinton. Another will be Thursday, June 16, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Scott Community College Student Life Center, Room 2300, 500 Belmont Road, Bettendorf. College staff has requested that those attending the consumer comment hearing park in Lots C, D, or E and enter through Doors 5 or 6.
Persons with disabilities requiring assistive services or devices to observe or participate in a consumer comment hearing should contact the Utilities Board at (515) 725-7334 at least five days in advance of the scheduled date. A written explanation of all current and proposed rate schedules is available from the local business office by calling 242-9231.