Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityKalamazoo residents will soon see an increase in municipal water and wastewater rates | WWMT
Close Alert

Kalamazoo increases municipal water and wastewater rates to cover improvements

Our Newschannel 3 reporter, Maria Serrano washing her hands (WWMT/Gabe Balderramas).
Our Newschannel 3 reporter, Maria Serrano washing her hands (WWMT/Gabe Balderramas).
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

Starting March 1, residents in Kalamazoo will pay more for municipal water and wastewater.

Rates for both services are increasing to pay for the operation, maintenance, and improvement of utilities, as well as cover the costs of projects including the lead pipe replacement program, water quality, and improvement to wastewater treatment plants.

“We hear concerns that folks may have about the cost of the utility, and we understand that,” said James Baker, Kalamazoo's public services director. But, he says, rates are the only way the city pays for projects.

“We've got infrastructure investment that we've got to do, everything from system operations to capital projects,” Baker said.

As part of the city ordinance, residents will pay about $5 extra each month with both water and wastewater increases.

“We’re at a time period, in terms of age of utility, that it's time for some reinvestment," Baker said. "So essentially, if our rates don't sustain our work, then the work's got to stop."

Baker said replacing lead service lines is one major component of the increase.

“Another component of our capital program is cast iron pipe replacements, and we've got 100-year-old cast iron pipes. We're incorporating cast iron pipe replacement with every one of our major street projects,” Baker said.

With these new rates, he said, the city will increase its water revenue stream by about 14% and on the wastewater side by about 10%.

“We understand that no matter what the cost, you know, utilities are expensive,” he said.

But, he said, financial help is available.

In 2020, under the governor's supplemental funding to support COVID-19 response, the state assisted 503 households that would have been subject to water shut off with utility assistance. The city also has suspended water shutoffs since March 2020 and will continue to suspend water shutoffs through 2021.

The city also recently announced a partnership with Consumers Energy to promote energy efficiency and savings.

“We often see that some of our families that struggle with high utility bills are also experiencing high usage and this program is aimed to help folks address that it's a free program, specifically on the water side, low-flow fixtures, high-efficiency showerheads,” Baker said.

The city also has payment plan options and extensions available. For more information, call 311. Anyone who lives outside the city of Kalamazoo can call 269-337-8000.

Overall, city engineers said, anytime they’re addressing a water main break, there will be a boil water advisory.

Comment bubble

Since the start of the year, Kalamazoo has addressed 45 main brakes; over the past five years, the city has annually averaged about 80 to 100 main brakes.

Loading ...