Council votes to increase water, sewer rates to upgrade aging treatment plant

Right now, Murray’s Wastewater Treatment Plant runs at 95 percent capacity. That may sound like a good thing, but Chief Operator Gene Pierceall said it’s harder to meet certain EPA permit standards.

“A lot of the equipment is outdated,” Pierceall told WPSD. 

He said the city’s known for years the plant needed upgrades. The problem worsened when two pumps broke. It is more than 30 years old, and Pierceall said for the most part the entire system works pretty well. But the city’s growth is out-pacing the plant’s output. 

“It’s just old, and it needs to be replaced,” Pierceall said. Currently, the plant does not meet some EPA regulations, and Pierceall said the city is working to bring it up to code. The price tag could top $45 million. 

Councilwoman Linda Cherry said the city can do a better job finding a way to pay for it instead of increasing water and sewer rates. 

“I just think there is something better we can do,” Cherry said. “And I don’t know what we can do, and I don’t know what that would be, but I would like to find out.”

Cherry voted no to the rate increases, and said over the years the council wasn’t given all the information to stay informed of the maintenance issues. She feels the rate hike would unfairly target a large portion of rate payers. 

“A lot of times, we did not have the information that we needed to vote responsibly on what we were asked to vote for,” she said.

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