Wichita water treatment plant projects possible rate increases

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

The 80-year-old Wichita water treatment plant is still working for now, but city leaders say i'ts hanging on by a thread. 

"The message today that we're there, we're ready, we're bringing this forward to council and we want to make sure all the members of the steering committee have been heard," says Alan King, Wichita Public Works Director. 

A steering committee confirms it is one step closer to finalizing a deal on a new $494 million water treatment plant. In order to pay for the plant, customers will see rate increases as early as next year. 

A graph shows a drastic rate spike in the first five years and they will continue to rise. "Even though they come down, that doesn't mean that the rates are coming down, the amount of the increase is coming down," says King. 

Even surrounding areas like Derby had a chance to visualize how the facility will help their city. "It's good that they're talking about not just 2020 rates, but ten year rates because everybody can plan better if we know what's being expected for multiple years," says Kathy Sexton, Derby City Manager. 

The rates will vary depending on the volume of water used, with  hopes it will encourage water conservation. Wichita is partnering with a federal program to assist with funding. Financial experts say this should help keep rate increases low. "What they do is they allow you to apply for a loan, negotiate the terms for the loan, you get a very low interest rate, it's locked in," says King. 

Before any rates increase, the city council must approve by how much. A workshop will be held next week to discuss this in more depth. 

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