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Water board increases usage rates

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP – Managing Editor
The Brewton Water Board notified customers this week that they approved a rate increase that will go into effect in December.
According to a letter dispersed by the board, updating the city's outdated water system is the primary reason for the hike. The minimum rates will be increased from $5.30 for 3,000 gallons to $10 for 2,000 gallons. Other rates are now: 2,000 to 6,000 gallons, $2.05; 6,000 to 10,000 gallons, $1.95; 10,000 to 20,000, $1.85; 20,000 to 70,000, $1.55 and over 70,000 will be $1.40.
According to Superintendent of Utilities Ray Madden the water department has many projects planned that will update the city's system and help increase the city's fire rating.
Madden said that while rates have increased by .5 or .10 in recent years, this marks the first major increase since 1987.
The hike will help the system pay for a $3.5 million bond issue which will be used to update the system. Among the projects planned is changing water meters throughout the system.
Along with changing the meters, the department will include a device used to prevent backflow. The Alabama Department of Emergency Management told the city to write a program to update the meters with the device. Some have been done and Madden said the others will be done soon.
Another project will be upgrading some of the city's existing four-inch water mains to either six- or eight-inch mains. He said this will give customers the added benefit of better fire ratings.
Service lines will also be updated. Madden said some galvanized lines that are 50 to 60 years old will be replaced with copper lines. A line that runs along Douglas Avenue, from Blachsher to Gordon streets will be replaced as will the fire hydrants in that area.
Another line will be replaced in the Escambia and Benita area where the department has had trouble with stagnated water. There, two-inch lines will be replaced to improved fire protection and overall service.