Improvements needed to bring McDuffie County's municipal drinking water standards to new levels will cost most residential water customers about $30 dollars a year to fund.
Beginning with the February water bill, city and county consumers will notice the cost per thousand will have jumped 40 cents to $3.90. Based on monthly water utilization of 6,000 gallons, the increase comes to $2.40 per month or $28.80 a year.
Thomson Mayor Bob Knox, Jr., said the new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard amounts to yet another unfunded mandate that local government will have to pay for. City Council member Mike Carrington voted against the water rate increase in protest to the EPA directive.
Granular activated carbon filters are being added at both the Big Creek and Augusta Highway water treatment plants at a cost of $2.8 million. In order to support the debt service on the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority loan, the water rate increases were necessary. Local officials did get favorable financing, however, with 3 percent interest over a 20-year term.
City Administrator Bob Flanders said the water and sewer system still continues to experience steady growth. The number of water customers is up 3 percent over last year; sewer service users have grown by 3 1/2 percent, Mr. Flanders said.