Rate hikes expected for Capital Region Water customers

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 26, 2014 3:19 AM

Photo by Ben Allen/witf

Capital Region Water CEO Shannon Williams.

(Harrisburg) -- Customers of Capital Region Water can expect to pay more for water and sewer service due to the utility’s agreement with regulators to reduce discharges into rivers.

The Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental Protection haven’t levied any fines, but the partial consent decree requires Capital Region Water to hit deadlines on system improvements and long-term plans to avoid future sanctions.

The EPA and DEP brought the action over discharging storm water into the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

In 2013, Capital Region Water, which serves Harrisburg and parts of some surrounding townships, reported 82 overflow events.

CEO Shannon Williams says it’s still tallying costs for all the projects needed to comply with the Clean Water Act.

"Hundreds of millions is the likely estimate. For similar cities, Lancaster for example, they had an estimate of $300 million to do all piping and gray infrastructure, about $130 million for green infrastructure. I would presume that we're probably somewhere in that range," she says.

Williams says she's hoping to spread the projects out over time to reduce the immediate impact on rates.

"There will be definitely be a financial investment and there's significant amount of work that we need to do. As I mentioned, we're working together with the departments to look at financial affordability. There are a number of projects we need to undertake, we don't know the full scope of those at this time," adds Williams.

Citing past mismanagement, Williams says basic information is missing.

"We have not been able to gather records on routine cleaning or maintenance of the sewer systems, so yes a lot of this is catching up," says Williams.

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