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Public Hearing On Sewer And Water Rate Increase Tuesday Night

Last updated on Monday, September 10, 2012

(BEDFORD) - Bedford’s water system is in serious disrepair. City officials say, crumbling infrastructure no longer can handle the flow of water and waste.

In August, during a meeting of the city council, Mayor Shawna Girgis announced plans to renovate Bedford's water and sewer system.

She proposed a new stormwater fee plus hikes to both water and sewer rates. Girgis says the hike will not be popular but the city has no choice.

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Bedford Area Chamber of Commerce.

Bedford's water system dates back to the early 1890s when a plant was constructed on Illinois Street. A second plant was built on M Street in 1967, but vacated in 2000. The city's current water system features 110 miles of lines, two water towers, and a pumping station along the White River.

A waste water treatment plant was constructed in 1950 and updated in 2001. The city's sanitation system includes 83 miles of sewer lines, 16 miles of storm sewer lines, 33 sewer lift stations, and three stormwater lift stations. The lift stations pump fluid from one elevation to another.

Municipalities once owned exclusive oversight over their respective water systems. But the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948, which later evolved into the Clean Water Act, opened the faucet on a flood of federal legislation compelling communities to ensure their citizens are provided with healthy water and functional sewer systems.

When sewer systems fail to handle surface flooding, the runoff can carry bacteria into streams, creeks and rivers. Stormwater systems were introduced to prevent this from transpiring, but old pipes began to do what old pipes do -- spring leaks and spew frustration for all.

Girgis and her staff began researching solutions to the city's deteriorating water and sewer system when she first took office in 2009. They sought assistance from Crowe Horwath, the city's financial consultant, and Bernardin, Lochmueller, and Associates, the engineering firm leading the evaluation of the community sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

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