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A monthly $7.50 flat-rate fee will be added to all City of Loveland water accounts, beginning with the January 2023 billing.
City Council approved the monthly Water Main Replacement (WMR) Fee of $7.50, per the recommendations of the Finance Commission and city manager. The money will be specifically earmarked to establish a long-term water main replacement program for the city.
“Much like in 2020, when City Council increased funding to the city’s annual road repair program to reverse the cycle of continually deferring repairs and paving, it is now time to create a plan for a sustainable water main replacement program. Water mains are not visible to the eye like our roads, but they are just as vital for the wellbeing of our residents and to keep the city functioning,” said David Kennedy, City Manager.
The flat rate user fee will be a separate line item on an accountholder’s utility bill, phased in at $7.50 per unit in 2023 and increasing by $1.00 in 2024 ($8.50) and 2025 ($9.50). Past 2025, the rate will remain locked in at $9.50. The fee will be added to all City of Loveland utility customers, both inside and outside of the city’s corporation boundaries.
The City of Loveland has its own water system and maintains approximately 76 miles of water main. Given water mains have an average 80-year life, to normalize the replacement schedule of the city’s system, nearly one mile of pipe should be replaced in the city’s system per year.
While the above is a guideline, it does not account for peaks in development phases. For example, in the City of Loveland’s service area, a large amount of water mains were installed by developers during the residential housing boom of the 1990s. These mains are expected to be due for replacement in the mid-2060s. Meanwhile, there are mains in older areas of the city, which are at or have exceeded the expected useful life and need to be addressed.
Water main replacement projects must be strategically timed in conjunction with other road and storm water improvements, and typically result in corresponding expenditures to repair the associated roads, sidewalks, and storm drainage system. For instance, the estimate to replace the water main along Cherokee Drive is $1,356,659: $678,320 for the water main replacement and $678,339 for road, storm sewer and sidewalk work.
By implementing the WMR Fee and earmarking the revenue solely for water main replacement, the city can avoid taking out loans for main replacement and can avoid enforcing a large water rate increase in the future to fund main replacement.
“The creation of the WMR Fee will not collect enough revenue for the city to replace a mile of water main a year; realistically, it’s more like a half mile per year. However, it is an important step in being proactive and not delaying the inevitable,” Kennedy explained. “The fee demonstrates City Council’s formal commitment to address the need of replacing water mains in a sustainable fashion without continuing to take out loans or enforcing a large water rate increase on customers.”
The city’s water rates are typically one of the lower in the State of Ohio, per the 2022 Annual Water Rate Survey prepared by the City of Piqua Utilities Department. The median water bill for a three-month period (use of 22,500 gallons of water) is $133.10 of the 67 water jurisdictions surveyed. The City of Loveland’s average three-month water bill falls below the median at $103. With the WMR Fee added, the city is still projected to fall below the median.
For more information about the City of Loveland’s water system, please visit https://lovelandoh.gov/159/Utilities. For questions about the Water Main Replacement (WMR) Fee, please call (513) 707-1454.
What is the Water Replacement Main (WMR) Fee?This fee will establish a long-term water main replacement program for the City of Loveland’s water system.
Who is impacted by the WMR Fee?The fee will be added to all City of Loveland utility customers — residential or commercial — both inside and outside of the city’s corporation boundaries.
When does the fee begin?The fee begins on the January 2023 billing cycle.
Where will I see this on my bill?The flat-rate user fee will be a separate line item on your utility bill.
How much will my bill increase? Accountholders will see a fee of $7.50 in 2023. This will increase by $1.00 in 2024 ($8.50) and 2025 ($9.50). It will remain locked in at $9.50 past 2025. This chart is a monthly projection:
Do multi-family residential units pay the WMR Fee one-time or per unit?The fee is charged per unit.
Is the WMR Fee temporary?The WMR Fee is permanent.
How many water mains need to be replaced? The City of Loveland has its own water system and maintains approximately 76 miles of water main. Given water mains have an average 80-year life, to normalize the replacement schedule of the city’s system, nearly one mile of pipe should be replaced in the city’s system per year. The priority is to replace mains that are older than the industry standard for useful life, those more prone to breaks, and those that are underserving today’s fire flow demands. Some mains in the city are 4 inches in diameter, and these will be replaced with 8-inch ductile iron pipes. The larger mains will improve fire flows. The City Engineer will coordinate main replacements with other street and utility projects.
Will this mean less water main breaks and outages?Ideally yes. New ductile iron pipe will replace aging infrastructure, some of which is made of cast iron. Cast iron is thin, easily corrodible, and brittle. Replacement mains will be upsized, if needed, which in some cases will eliminate bottlenecks. Bottlenecks, or sections of smaller diameter pipes with larger sections upstream or downstream, experience higher velocity of water through the pipe, which equates to increased kinetic energy; hammer and surge issues; and more wear from friction. Correcting bottlenecks decreases the potential for water main breaks. Also, mechanical valves on aged water mains are often found to be inoperable, limiting the city’s ability to isolate areas affected by a water main break. New mains will have new valves, which should result in an outage impacting fewer customers in the event of a water main break.
Where is the WMR money going?All monthly revenues from the WMR Fee will be directed to a designated “Water Main Replacement” line item within the Water Capital Improvement Fund for easy accountability by the city and the public. Through this process, the city can track expenses directly attributable to main replacement and can separate those costs from other costs associated with the city’s water operations.
Why is the city implementing the WMR Fee?Eliminating the city’s reliance on debt funding to complete large-scale water projects will have a long-term, positive impact on the city’s overall water operations and the rates charged to users. This will allow the city to maintain available funding in its general water operational accounts for cyclical upgrades and maintenance to the water plant, including but not limited to future wells, pumps and water towers, as well as tank maintenance needs.
How has the city been paying for water main replacement in the past?Loans have been taken out and supplemented with grant funding as available.
Are other cities implementing similar fees?Assessments for water system upgrades are common. Within the area, several water jurisdictions including Warren County and Harrison are charging similar fees to utility customers.
How can I share my opinion or ask questions?You can provide feedback to City Hall by phone at (513) 707-1454 or by email to email@example.com.
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