Water rates to increase for Citizens Energy customers

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Water rates could go up for thousands of central Indiana residents.

Citizens Energy Group has filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) seeking increases in water and wastewater rates.

If approved, Citizens Energy customers will see their rates increase on or after January 1, 2014.

Water bills will rise approximately $3 per month, from $31 to $34. Wastewater bills will rise approximately $10 per month, from $30 to $40, and another $4 per month, from $40 to $44, starting on or after October 1, 2014.

Citizens Energy says the costs are due to a $560 million investment in projects to remove raw sewage from rivers and streams, as well as to improve the quality of the drinking water. The federal government mandated that something had to be done to prevent sewage overflow into rivers.

According to Citizens Energy:

Nearly $114 million is required to improve the water system by making updates that will prevent water main breaks, improve system flow and enhance the water treatment plants.

Nearly $444 million is required to improve the wastewater system by constructing an underground tunnel system that will capture raw sewage, expanding wastewater treatment plants and by continuing the Septic Tank Elimination Program (STEP) to reduce dangerous E-coli bacteria from seeping into neighborhood ditches and into groundwater.

Citizens says by combining the water, wastewater, gas, steam and chilled water utilities, it's achieved more than $112 million in annual savings, which the utility says will help keep rates lower than they otherwise would have been had the utilities remained with the City of Indianapolis.