By Paige Nash
The water quality in Springhill has been a hot topic for many residents for quite some time. Many have expressed concern with the color, smell and pressure of the water over many months. However, the main concern for Ken Terry, the Compliance Manager for the Louisiana Rural Water Association, was not necessarily the quality but the sustainability of the entire system.
Terry met with the Springhill City Council last Wednesday, August 9, to discuss those concerns.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health’s latest water grade, Springhill Water System received a “C.”
“With the grading system, it’s not so much about water quality,” said Terry. “It’s about sustainability. It’s more about whether we are going to be able to keep this thing going.”
According to Terry the city is lacking funds on top of already “extremely high” debt.
“One thing you have to keep in mind is that the state is not going to allow you to keep working in the red. You do not want to know the repercussions of that,” said Terry. “All the money you have in water and sewer has to start staying in water and sewer.”
As far as current statistics go, the City of Springhill has approximately 2,300 water paying customers. Residential customers are paying a $23.46 flat rate for up to 2,000 gallons. After customer hits that 2,000 mark, they are charged 5.50 per 1,000 gallons after the minimum is reached. Commercial consumers pay a flat rate of $30.60 at a minimum of 2,000 gallons and are charged $6.50 for every 1,000 gallons after that. For out of city customers the flat rate is currently $40.80 at a minimum of 2,000 and 6.50 per 1,000 gallons after that.
Of all water paying customers, the Louisiana Rural Water Association estimates that the city is experiencing a 37 percent loss in gallons of water due to flushes, leaks and water protection but mostly due to faulty and out-dated meters.
According to Terry, the City of Springhill is producing $1 million at their current rate with $1.3 million in expenses.
“To put in real simple terms, for every dollar you are putting out in your water system, you are bringing in .79 cents,” said Terry. “To apply and be eligible for grants, for every dollar you put out, you need to bring in $1.15.”
One recommendation made by Terry was to raise the residential flat rate to $30 per 1,000 gallons and charge 7.25 for every 1,000 gallons after that. For commercial consumers, raise the flat rate to $60 per 1,000 gallons and charge $10 per 1,000 gallons after the first 1,000. For residents outside of the city limits, the flat rate decreased to $40 per 1,000 gallons and charged $8 per 1,000 gallons after that.
Another recommendation made was to begin enforcing a consumer price index (CPI) increase every year. CPI is the average change in prices over time in prices paid for urban consumers for goods and services. This usually equals a 2.5 to 3 percent raise per year.
City of Springhill Mayor Ray Huddleston suggested introducing an ordinance to enforce the CPI increase in the future at Monday’s City Council meeting.
No other decisions regarding the rate increases have been made at this time.