Kansas City residents to pay more than double for water bills - KCTV5

Kansas City residents to pay more than double for water bills

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The rate hikes are to pay for a massive $2.5 billion overhaul of the city’s aging sewer and water system, mandated by the federal government. (KCTV5) The rate hikes are to pay for a massive $2.5 billion overhaul of the city’s aging sewer and water system, mandated by the federal government. (KCTV5)
It’s heartbreaking news for Samuel and Narmie Granville who, like many Kansas City residents, are on a strict budget. (KCTV5) It’s heartbreaking news for Samuel and Narmie Granville who, like many Kansas City residents, are on a strict budget. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Kansas City water bills are going up again on Sunday, and they’ll keep going up for the next 19 years.

The rate hikes are to pay for a massive $2.5 billion overhaul of the city’s aging sewer and water system, mandated by the federal government.

Right now, the average water bill is $101.80. KCTV5 News crunched the numbers and found the average water bill when the project is completed in 2035, will soar to $229.24 a month.

It’s heartbreaking news for Samuel and Narmie Granville who, like many Kansas City residents, are on a strict budget.

“All this increase does is more hardship on seniors because we are on a fixed income,” Samuel Granville said.

The couple takes pride in the fact they were born and raised in the City of Fountains. They don’t want to abandon the city they’ve built so many memories in, but one day that may become a reality.

“That will really put a pinch in our budget,” said Narmie Granville when we revealed just how much they’ll be paying in 2035.

While the rate increases will put a strain on family budgets, the city doesn’t have many options.

In 1994, the federal government told cities they had to separate sewer and storm water. Previous city administrations waited for 16 years to see how other cities were handle the mandate. That kept water rates among the lowest in the nation.

But the mandate would catch up with the city and a federal consent decree ordered Kansas City to start the process of separating sewer and storm runoff.

The city finally started the long and expensive project in 2010.

Construction will separate rain and waste water. When it storms, the sewers are less likely to release untreated sewage into waterways like the Missouri River, which has been a constant problem for decades.

Kansas City Water Services along with Burns & McDonnell, one of its contracted engineers, took KCTV5 underground to show why this problem is so much more than just a federal mandate. It’s where the aging infrastructure marries both sewage and rainwater and where the two can rise up and spill into areas where people often fish.

Kansas City Water Services Director Terry Leeds, sympathizes with customers but points out the city is doing what is has to do by law.

“If we would have done stuff earlier, our rates would have been higher back then,” Leeds said. “Maybe we wouldn’t be playing such a catch up game. Maybe we would have more sustainable rates then we have today and over the next five years.”

Leeds hopes Kansas Citians can look toward the future. Part of the plan is to build city parks that will have retention ponds catching and holding most of the rainwater.

While the Granvilles like the idea of more green space, they’re still lamenting over the sticker shock of a bill that was once $15 a month. 

“The younger generation will be able to enjoy ponds and fountains and all that kind of things,” Samuel Granville said. “Those days are gone for us. We’re on the other end.”

For now, they will make ends meet while forced to invest in the city’s future.

KC Water Services does have a hardship program for those having trouble paying their bill. Customers are encouraged to call the 211 action line to apply.

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