ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - Starting July 1, Escanaba will see a 45 percent increase to their water rates.
For Mayor Marc Tall, this decision wasn’t an easy one to make.
"It’s not that we want to do this, we have to do this, and we need to do this by state mandate."
Stemming from the Flint water crisis, the new state rules require the replacement of service lines from the water main to every meter inside of homes and businesses. This will cost $3,000 to $9,000 for each service line.
"Historically we had very low utility rates in the city of Escanaba and we have postponed work underground on our water lines and sewer lines and storm sewer lines," said Tall. "There comes a point where you can no longer put that off."
The city says the average monthly utility bills will see an overall $22.70 increase for electric, water, and wastewater per month.
"I hope the residents listen to the explanation and accept the hard fact that things do have to be replaced and now is that time," said Tall.
For local restaurant, Rosy's Diner, the owner says these utility rates will significantly impact their restaurant and may cause her to have to raise in her menu prices.
"They are doing it right in summer when you are at your busiest," said Rosy. "My grills electric, my hotter water heater is electric and I have old fashion dish sinks that I fill with water every 20 minute. I can’t see anyone being happy about this."
Wastewater rates are also set to increase 20 percent for the department's State Revolving Loan Funds project, to pay for improvements and expansions to the wastewater treatment plant.
"I understand it’s going to hurt some people on limited incomes, but we have to work together as a city to make these changes," said Tall.
The city says even with the water rate increase, Escanaba’s cost of water per month will still be in the lower half of rates compared to other U.P. communities.