Tennessee American Water seeking rate increase - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee American Water seeking rate increase

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- If approved by state regulators, it would be the second largest water rate increase in Tennessee American's history.               

Thousands of Chattanoogans will likely see their bills go up by more than ten percent, but that's only half the hike the utility asked the regulatory authority to sign off on.

Chattanoogans could soon see water bills increase by 12 percent.

The hike has city leaders running hot.

"Seems to be a pattern here," Mayor Ron Littlefield says. "They ask for a huge amount and settle for half of it. That seems to be happening again and again."

Mayor Ron Littlefield calls the increase "excessive," after rates increased by nearly 15 percent last year.

The water provider says the hikes are necessary.

"For the next 18 months we'll be investing approximately $25 million in local water infrastructure projects," Vince Butler says.

Tennessee American is also washing its hands of sewer billing. That's being left up to local municipalities.

The City of Chattanooga will pay a dollar more per bill, a cost that will trickle down.

And, the timing couldn't be worse. City sewer rates are going up to pay for improvements required by the EPA.

"It's about nine percent a year," Mayor Littlefield says.

But, there are things you can do to battle the rate hikes.

Water saving shower heads and appliances help. A water leak detection kit will ensure your pipes aren't a problem. Shorter showers, insulating hot water pipes, and a sud-saver attachment for your washing machine can equal savings.

A second water meter may help reduce sewer fees.

There is no sewer charge on irrigation meters, which can be a good solution for a homeowner who waters often.

"If they have an established irrigation system and they want to keep their lawn green during hot, dry periods like we've seen this summer, that would make sense," says Deron Allen, President of Tennessee American Water.

The $600 investment can pay for itself over time, but Tennessee American Water President Deron Allen says the key to saving is to monitor usage.

"They really need to do their research first," says Allen.

Attorney General Bob Cooper told our partners at the Times Free Press the agreement seems appropriate.

It will have to be approved by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority, which will also decide when the 12 percent water rate increase takes effect.

A Tennessee American Water spokesperson refused to comment when asked if another increase could be coming next year.

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