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Merrill to ask state for water rate hike to cover water treatment expansion

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MERRILL, Wis. (WSAU) - Merrill city leaders are getting ready to ask the state for a water rate increase.

The city is asking the Public Service Commission permission to raise water rates by $121,000 a year. That's an overall increase of about 10% from the 2010 rates. The move comes after Merrill installed new manganese treatment parts to the city's water treatment. City administrator Dave Johnson says that got pricy. "The addition to the treatment plant was about $2.2 Million and that is a cost we now have to recoup."

Johnson says the manganese is a very unwanted addition to the city's water. "It would leave a black residue when people washed their clothes, or got a glass of water, it would stain toilet bowls, anything where you'd use the water."

The city will be headed to the Public Service Commission later this month to ask for the increase, after a public hearing next week on the issue in Merrill. Johnson says the funding is necessary. "Since it was a request and not something we did on our own, I feel it's a very legitimate cost. And it's something we have to pass on. We can't eat it without additional revenues, we'd have no way to pay for it."

That hearing is set for October 15th at City Hall starting at 10 am. The Commission will appear by phone and will be taking public comment as well as written testimony.

ON THE WEB: http://psc.wi.gov/apps40/dockets/content/detail.aspx?dockt_id=3610-WR-104

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