Manistique council proposes water, sewer rate increases

MANISTIQUE – Water was an important topic for the Manistique City Council during its meeting Monday night, as the council proposed water and sewer rate increases and new restrictions on well construction.

Amendments to the Manistique water system ordinance were discussed at the meeting. The proposed amendments would prohibit new private wells from being constructed in the city except in areas where the city does not have any water mains.

Similar ordinances can be found in other Upper Peninsula cities including Gladstone, Escanaba, and Marquette. The provisions are designed to prevent damage to the public water system caused by cross connections between private wells and the public water supply.

“That could be someone inadvertently connecting to our system and contaminating our system,” explained City Manager Sheila Aldrich.

The amended ordinance will be acted on by the council at their next regular meeting on June 24. However, until the ordinance can be enacted and take effect, the city has placed a moratorium on the construction of new private wells within the city limits.

Those residents who are connected to municipal water may see rate increases in their future due to steady declines in water consumption over the past few years.

“Water usage is down. People have done a really good job of conserving, but unfortunately our expenses have not changed,” said Aldrich.

Revenue from water sales has been steadily decreasing for the past three years, and was down by $37,466.31 in the 2012-2013 fiscal year compared to the 2011-2012 fiscal year. To offset the decrease in water sales, the council is considering raising the water rate by 85 cents per 1,000 gallons.

Sewer rates are calculated by the amount of water used by a home or business for properties that are both water and sewer customers. Because city water and sewer rates are related, wastewater useage has also taken a hit in the past few years. The council is considering a sewer rate increase of 53 cent per 1,000 gallons.

“For someone who is a water and a sewer customer as well it would be $1.38 per thousand gallons,” said Aldrich, noting that not all city sewer customers have access to city water. Those residents who do not purchase water from the city will only be affected by the sewer rate increase.

During the reports and communication portion of the meeting it was noted the Manistique Municipal Marina will not be open during the Independence Day festivities taking place on July 6 due to the marina renovation project. Those interested in watching the fireworks display over the lake that evening will still have access to the lakefront in the Lakeview Park and at the west side boat launch off Traders Point Drive.

“We just want people to know that there will be plenty of places to watch the fireworks,” said Aldrich.