Council OKs increase in water rates

By: 
Jamie Hult, Staff writer
The average water user in the city of Brandon will begin seeing a $1.40 increase in their monthly utility bills next month.
The Brandon City Council approved new, tiered water rates at its Jan. 6 meeting. The rates will go into effect in February.
Brandon’s average water consumer uses 4,000 gallons per month, according to Miranda Kleven with AE2S. Kleven presented her firm’s recommendations for the new water rates to the council at Monday’s meeting. 
Brandon utility customers currently pay a fixed monthly rate per 1,000 gallons of water used. 
With the new rate system, single-family residential customers who use up to 12,000 gallons per month will pay $4.59 per 1,000 gallons. There are four tiers, with the highest users – 36,001 gallons or more – paying $10.04 per 1,000 gallons.
AE2S’s recommendation for new water rates is part of a water study the firm completed for the city in 2019. The increase will help the city pay for upcoming water infrastructure projects, Kleven explained, including the expansion of Brandon’s water treatment plant, development of well 8 and construction of a new water tower. 
Kleven also recommended the city consider adopting a fixed debt surcharge with its water rates in 2021.
“I think these rates are very reasonable, and we have a good plan moving forward,” said mayor Paul Lundberg. 
The city council also approved a motion to seek an RFP for preliminary design of the water treatment plant expansion.  
Development of well 8 is expected to cost approximately $1.3 million, water tower construction is estimated at $5 million and expansion of the water treatment plant, which will double the facility’s size, at $15 million to $25 million. 
The city will disseminate more information about the new tiered water rate structure in the coming weeks. 
The city council also heard from Troy Larson, executive director of Lewis & Clark Rural Water Systems. Larson spoke briefly about Lewis & Clark’s plan to serve water customers in the distant future, beyond the current guaranteed 45 million gallons per day, which the water system is calling “Lewis & Clark 2.”
Brandon isn’t a Lewis & Clark customer, but the city could be part of Lewis & Clark 2, Larson said. 
He doesn’t know what that phase will look like yet, but he estimated it to be 20 years in the future, after Lewis & Clark has expanded its 45 million gallons per day to 60 million. 
“If this ever comes to fruition, we want to make sure Brandon is part of the discussion all the way through,” Larson said.

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