LEIGHTON — Malvin Broadway said he expects resistance to a proposed water rate increase, but the hike can’t be avoided.
The chairman of the Leighton Water Board said the rates have not been adjusted in four or five years.
“We just have to go up on the rates to meet the cost of maintaining clean water,” he said.
The board is expected to vote on the increase during a called board meeting at 5:30 p.m. today.
Broadway said Leighton residents pay a minimum of $13 for the first 3,000 gallons of water. The increase would add another $1.30 per month.
“It’s not going to be a great increase,” he said.
Broadway said the water system serves 350-400 customers.
The cost of chemicals used to treat the raw water is among the reasons given for the increase.
Leighton’s water system was built in 1935 and Broadway said old water meters need to be replaced. He said the cost of meters has also increased.
Because the lines are old, Broadway said the water department has to frequently repair broken water lines.
The water board has letters ready for customers explaining the need for the rate increase.
If the cost of chemicals continues to rise, another increase might be necessary, according to Broadway.
Colbert County Engineer John Bedford, who is over the county’s water department, said the cost of chemicals continues to be a cost issue for water providers.
Another issue that his system and small systems like Leighton will have to address is the cost of testing required by Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
“A lot of these testing (regulations) are really adding a significant amount of cost to operate,” Bedford said. “A lot of additional testing is coming down from the EPA and ADEM.”
Broadway said many of Leighton’s customers are retirees and disabled people on fixed incomes.
He said some residents do not use the monthly minimum amount of water.
If the rate increase is approved, Broadway said it would go into effect in January. The increase would be reflected on customers’ February bills.
He said the other three members are on board with the increase.
“We’ve been having this discussion since August,” Broadway said. “Some of them suggested going up $5 to $10.”
Russ Corey can be reached at 256-740-5738 or russ.corey@TimesDaily.com.