Water and Sewer Bill Could Triple in Parts of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Water and sewer bills in some parts of the state could triple because the federal government has required upgrades it won't help pay for, mayors complained Thursday.

In Mansfield, upgrades to the water treatment plant would cost $30 million, sending the average bill in the city of 50,000 people soaring from $32 a month to as much as $100 a month, Mayor Lydia Reid said. Residents already saw rate hikes when the city dumped $25 million into the system in the 1980s.

Reid and several other Ohio mayors met with Sen. George Voinovich on Thursday to discuss ways to take the burden of meeting federal clean water mandates off ratepayers.

``Nobody disagreed with the ultimate goal of clean water, but they disagreed with the means of getting to that goal,'' said Christopher Jones, director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Sewer and water authorities from across the country, contractors, and municipal groups lobbied Congress this year to help communities fix their old sewer systems before age and booming development cause a crisis.

Voinovich on Thursday called for an increase in funding in a state loan fund earmarked for sewer system upgrades and the creation of a federal grant program to help cities pay for improvements the U.S. EPA requires.

To add to the problem, two mushroom farms where Zwayer was paid for manure have closed in the past eight years. A third, in Indiana, appears ready to close, he said.

Hoitink and his colleagues are working on ways to cut composting costs. He believes that once less expensive ways are designed to compost manure, many composting facilities will be built.