Lynchburg, VA - Lynchburg is an old city, and so is its infrastructure. We have water piping under our streets that dates back to the 1820s. To keep that piping flowing just fine means millions of dollars of work. Unfortunately, that's money the city doesn't have - at least not yet.
The city's going to residents to get this money. The water department's proposing hiking the fee on your water bill. For a typical house, it could mean a $2 increase from $3.69 to $5.69. Tuesday, that proposal is up for a public hearing at City Hall.
5th street is one of the most infamous water projects in the Hill City,, but there are more. In fact, 290 projects like 5th Street are waiting in the wings!
"For our water system, our needs are pretty staggering," said Tim Mitchell, director, water resources dept.
Tim Mitchell is Water Resources Director. He says the $2 hike still won't get all the work done.
"We are already in the hole, and even with this increase, we are only going to be doing $2 million of work per year in the water system," said Mitchell.
And the need is north of $3 million.
Energy efficient products like faucets and toilets that conserve water are one reason the city says it wants to hike the water bill. These products save households money on their water bill, and that means less money for the city.
Lowe's Manager Dustin Snead sees the energy efficient movement growing.
"I think it's going to be mandated - that's just what I see. Because everything is going up. Everyone is looking for ways to be more cost efficient," said Snead.
The numbers back up the words. The typical Lynchburg home saw a 17% decline in water consumption in five short years. Still, people like Michael Donohue don't want a higher water bill.
"Two dollars this year, five dollars next year, two dollars the year after. It's a never-ending process. I know the work has to get done, but there's gotta be a better way," said Donohue.
City Council's expected to vote on this increase Tuesday night. We'll keep you posted.
The water department has a second concern on its plate. There's talk in the next several years of the Forest community getting its water from Smith Mountain Lake instead of the city. That's something Lynchburg is fighting against.