Water Industry News

Residents face 35% hike in water fees

Thursday, June 01, 2006
By Susie Fair
The Grand Rapids Press

GREENVILLE -- The city's water fund is drying up. Greenville municipal water customers likely will be hit with a 35 percent increase for city-supplied water starting July 1.

Residents are charged $9.96 per quarter for up to 1,000 cubic feet of water. With the increase, the rate would be $12.96. Greenville City Manager George Bosanic said a family of four using an average 1,900 cubic feet of water over a three-month period would pay about $20 more per year.

The proposed rate increase is the result of lost revenue from the city's largest water consumers, Bosanic said.

Federal Mogul, the city's largest water user at a million gallons annually, was granted a rate reduction in January as part of a cost-cutting program aimed to keep the company from closing its doors.

"Unfortunately, water is one of those commodities that's consumer-driven. We can't continue to absorb the difference between what Federal Mogul was paying and what they're paying now," Bosanic said.

"The $80,000 they'll save per year on water is our loss."

With the AB Electrolux refrigeration plants shut down in March, the city lost $50,000 in annual water revenues.

It stands to lose another $25,000 annually with the closure of Tower Automotives plant in December.

These three companies accounted for half the city's water consumption, leaving us no choice but to raise rates, Bosanic said.

Another industrial water user is on the horizon. United Solar Ovonic is building a solar panel manufacturing facility expected to open next year. The first of six plants, slated to be built in the Greenville Industrial Park by 2010, should be operational in 15 to 18 months, United Solar President Subhendu Guha said.

If United Solar ends up using as much water as Federal Mogul, it is feasible water rates could go down, Bosanic said.

The Greenville City Council is expected to consider the water rate increase at its June 20 meeting, when it will look at adopting the 2006-07 budget.