Indianapolis Water seeks another rate increase

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Mary Milz/Eyewitness News

Marion County - Indianapolis Water plans to ask state regulators for a rate increase, the second in less than six months.

Matthew Klein, executive director of Indianapolis Water said they'll file the request with the Indiana Regulatory Commission Sept. 30.

"We have several upgrades [to the water system] that we have to do by law. There are several million dollars of federal and state unfunded mandates that need to be funded," he said.

They include major upgrades to treatment plants and providing a back-up to the central canal, which is the primary water source for Indianapolis.

Asked how much of a rate hike the utility would request, Klein said, "We don't know right now. We're still working with experts to figure out how much it will be."

Any rate increase could be tough to swallow for Indianapolis Water customers. Last spring state regulators reluctantly approved an emergency rate hike after water works got caught in the credit crisis, scolding the utility for poor financial management.

Rates jumped nearly 11% in July. The increase was a big blow for Indy Parks, which uses millions of gallons of water to keep its pools full.

Indy Parks spokesperson Paul Freund said, "Utilities are one of the most expensive expenses we have at Indy Parks, so obviously we'll have to look at how to allocate if there is a rate increase."

Dave Colt, a co-owner of the new Sun King Brewing Company, said he too was concerned about paying more for water, noting it takes six gallons of water to make one gallon of beer.

"To be a brewer you need to be able to get wet," he said. "Water is everywhere. You use it to clean with and it's part of the process [of making beer.]"

He said a price hike could hurt "especially at this tender stage where we're still in the early months of getting started."

Klein said he expected a hearing on the proposed rate hike early next year. If approved, water rates could go up late next spring.

Compare water rates of key Indiana cities

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