On June 24 Mount Pleasant Waterworks Commissioners approved a 7.5 percent increase in water and wastewater Basic Facility Charges (BFC) and volumetric rates effective with bills rendered on or after July 1. Due to rising costs to renew overall infrastructure, change in demand projections and overall cost of adhering to stringent federal regulations, this rate increase is necessary.
MPW's total asset value, which includes our water and wastewater infrastructure, is about $350,000,000. For MPW to continue providing quality water and wastewater service it must maintain and renew aging infrastructure. Each year MPW plans to reinvest approximately five percent of the $350,000,000 asset value. In addition to the planned reinvestment, MPW has to prepare for unexpected repairs and replacements.
During Fiscal Year 2013, MPW spent $1.5 million to repair the broken wastewater forcemain along Simmons Street and $250,000 for the break on Rifle Range Road. By constantly reinvesting in the infrastructure and properly maintaining the systems, MPW is able to prevent some costly unexpected repairs. In today's dollars if MPW had to completely renew the entire water and wastewater operating system it would cost over $1 billion.
When developing an annual budget that will cover the cost of operating systems that provides customers with a life sustaining service, it is important that we develop a budget that will allow us to continue to provide safe, clean water and wastewater.
In addition, the commissioners approved ending the $3 per month / per Residential Equivalent Unit Highway 17 Special Assessment. The special assessment was implemented in Fiscal Year 2011 to help recover part of the cost of relocating utility lines along Highway 17 and Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.
What impact will this rate change have on customers? The typical residential customer who utilizes 5,000 gallons of water per month will see a $4.07 increase in their bill. With the removal of the $3 Highway 17 Special Assessment the net increase felt by customers will be $1.07. With this increase Mount Pleasant Waterworks still has the lowest rates in Charleston County. Tap water remains one of the lowest cost utility bills for homeowners - a bargain considering the resources and expertise it takes.
For the average household in Mount Pleasant you can cook, clean, bathe, flush toilets, fund projects and enjoy safe clean drinking water for under $2 a day. Compared to other utilities and monthly bills, MPW's service stacks up as one of the best deals around.
Where does the money go? The Operating Budget consist of operating revenues, generated from existing customers and are used to cover operating expenses that benefit existing customers. The Debt Budget consists of debt proceeds and grant funds provided by lenders or public agencies that are restricted to expenditures on specific capital projects. The Capital Budget represents the projects and/or programs that once approved by the commission, authorizes specific projects and appropriates, where applicable, specific funding for those projects. Major capital projects for Fiscal Year 2014 include:
• Center Street Wastewater Treatment Plant Capacity Enhancement Project $13.3M - The Center Street Wastewater Treatment Plant (CSWWTP) was constructed in 1969 and upgraded in 1986. Due to the age and condition of the existing equipment, the capacity enhancement project will upgrade the CSWWTP to meet more stringent discharge limits while achieving a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption by replacing outdated equipment and processes. The total project will cost $27.3 and is anticipated to be completed in 2015.
• Wastewater Collection System Rehabilitation Project $2.3M - MPW's wastewater system began operating in 1942 with an untreated discharge to the Charleston Harbor and while the overall collection system is in good shape, the Old Village area contains the oldest wastewater lines in Mount Pleasant. The wastewater lines are generally over 50 years old and are primarily vitrified clay pipe, not modern plastic pipe materials. Due to cracks, breaks and sags many of the pipes are not functioning properly, MPW will be rehabilitating the wastewater collection system in the Old Village over the next few years.
• Waterline Replacement Project $1.3M - The water system serving the Old Village area was installed in the 1930's and 1940's. Some waterlines do not provide adequate fire flow protection and lines have lost capacity due to tuberculation. MPW developed a Master Plan to replace these old undersized metal pipes in that have become tuberculated, resulting in discolored water and low water pressure.