Water rates to increase to help pay for replacement of Provo underground reservoir

Posted at 9:16 PM, Oct 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-07 09:34:57-04

PROVO, Utah -- Water rates in Provo are steeply rising, in an effort to repair an aging underground reservoir.

The city council-approved plan calls for collecting money from rate-payers over a five-year span to help replace the 85-year-old underground reservoir, which pumps water from Provo Canyon into homes and businesses in Utah County.

"We can probably feed about 10,000 gallons a minute into this tank," explained Provo City Public Works Director Dave Decker Tuesday, as he pointed his flashlight at a pipe protruding up into their underground water reservoir.

The water tank's decades of service show.

"You can see the rebar that's been exposed around the vent," Decker said, peering up at the cracked concrete ceiling.

City officials say there's only so much repair the tank can handle.

"We've had a focus on maintenance," said Provo City Councilman Gary Winterton. "Now, we're shifting a little bit. We need to look towards replacement."

The tank would not only be replaced but mostly likely increase in size to meet demand, city officials say. The tank currently hold five million gallons.

"We would probably add at least three, maybe even four or five million gallons," Decker said.

The cost to replace it, Winterton said, would be about a dollar a gallon.

The council approved the water rate increases six months ago. The first 8 percent increase took effect immediately.

In July, the rates rose again- this time by 19.8 percent to cover fiscal year 2015-16.

In the fiscal year 2016-17, the rate will increase by another 11 percent; in 2017-18 by 9 percent on top of that and in the fiscal years of 2018-19 and 2019-20 the rate will increase by a final 5 percent.

Provo Mayor John Curtis said by the end of the five years, the city should have $5 million needed for a new tank.

"We think the plan that's been put together is in the perfect interest of our taxpayers,” Curtis said.

The mayor added the city will be "using the asset as much as possible, and at the same time planning for the future."

Decker said they expect the tank to last those five years of saving up, and it could even keep pumping water for up to another 15 years.