Wetumpka residents address water rate concerns

WETUMPKA, Ala. (WSFA) -- It's a tough situation for the City of Wetumpka.

One major facility -- Russell Corporation's Dyeing and Finishing Plant -- is out of the picture, and water and sewer rates are on the rise.

The sudden increases, however, pushes some residents to the boiling point.

On the February bill, residents saw a $3 increase in basic water service, along with an 80% spike in sewer costs.

Residents say their backs are against the wall.

"It's something that you can't live without.  You can do without a lot of your electricity. You can sit around and be hot, but you have to drink water," said Linda Heard of Wetumpka.

The Wetumpka Water Works and Sewer Board has a contract to buy 3.1 million gallons of water per day from three other communities.

Since Russell closed, Wetumpka only used about 1.7 million gallons per day.

It's a little more than half the planned amount, but the Water Works remains committed to paying for all of it.

"We don't like making these rates any more than the people like receiving them, but we don't really have much of an option," explained Dr. Julius Dunn, Chairman of the Board.

Small business owners understand the dilemma, but they have their own rate increases to worry about.

The commercial base price of water alone spiked to $100 per month from $67.50.

"It adds up to a outlay of 12-hundred dollars per year...which I of course have to pass on to my renters," explained small business owner Elisabeth Sheldon.

With no end in sight, residents are left wondering how they got to this point in the first place.

"If I ran my business that way, I'd be out of business," Sheldon exclaimed.

Stay with WSFA 12 News for the latest on this story.