Parkville and Riverside residents can look for a much lower water bill which could start as soon as the middle of July.
The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved a rate consolidation district for the customers of Missouri American Water in Platte County, which is expected to make rates go down by nearly a third.
The water rate change is expected to lower average water bills for residential customers in that area from $66.20 to $46.25.
In the past, each district paid rates based on improvements needed for the specific area which was served.
Missouri American Water had 18 districts in the state each with a different rate set by the improvements specific to that district. The consolidation leaves only three water districts in the state, which means costs for improvements will be spread out over more customers.
The Platte County water district will now be consolidated with the water districts in Brunswick and St. Joseph. It is now called the Northwest Rate Group for Missouri American Water and will consist of more than 34,000 customers.
Company External Affairs Manager Christie Barnhart says the company was for consolidation and had asked for the commission to approve a similar plan in the past.
“It is good for the customers,” Barnhart said. “Our water systems need a lot of investment. We have a lot of investments throughout the district and if you can spread out the costs over more customers, you are going to pay less.”
The previous high water rates were an issue Riverside Mayor Kathy Rose felt were inexcusable. The city partnered with Parkville in asking for lower rates and lobbying for some kind of consolidation. Rose says a promised reduction is a big deal for the district after many years of increases.
“We are very happy about the planned decrease for Parkville Regional water after many years of increases for the residential rate payer. For the residential rate payer to receive some relief will be very welcome,” Rose said.
This consolidation is important for the 6,500 Platte County residents served by Missouri American Water, in part because a new water treatment plant is scheduled for construction west of Parkville. The current facility is in downtown Parkville and has been in operation for 70 years. The new treatment plant, which is scheduled to become operational by the end of 2017 is expected to cost about $20 million.
The water company expects to break ground at a property off FF Highway west of Parkville by September. They are still working on plans for the plant, which now have to include making accommodations for an endangered bat, which was found in some of the trees on the property purchased for the plant.
“We’re working around that environmental challenge, and may have to purchase some additional land to move the footprint of the building,” Barnhart said.