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Grand Rapids water, sewer rates increase next year, but less than inflation

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Posted at 2:40 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 14:40:18-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Water and sewer rates in Grand Rapids are expected to rise about 4.08% and 4% starting in January, according to a preliminary study presented to the City Commission on Tuesday.

Both system increases are less than the current rate of inflation, with annual inflation currently at about 5.4%, according to a news release.

City staff conduct a review of operating and capital costs related to water and sewer services each year in order to recommend rate adjustments for Grand Rapids and its customer communities.

Utility Financial Officer Jenessa Carter told commissioners that based on the suggested rate increases, the “typical” Grand Rapids customer will likely pay about $7.99 - or 3.5% - more for water and sewer services quarterly.

Rates for retail customers in Walker, Kentwood, Cascade Township, Grand Rapids Township and Tallmadge Township and wholesale customers living in East Grand Rapids, Ada, Gaines, Caledonia and Ottawa vary because of infrastructure costs and usage trends.

“Asset management remains a priority for both systems,” Carter said. “Investments at the Lake Michigan Filtration Plant were a major driver for the water system rate increase. Furthermore, private lead services line replacements for the City of Grand Rapids residents in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Michigan Environment, Great Lakes & Energy Division regulatory requirements also drove costs.”

She added that work related to maintenance at the Wastewater Resource Recovery Facility also influenced the sewer system rate increase.

Other investments include PFAS testing and analysis and an EGLE-mandated ash lagoon remediation.

Continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also caused supply chain issues, which has inflated the costs of chemicals needed for waste processing.

The Grand Rapids City Commission is expected to approve the rates during its Dec. 14 meeting.