Proposed Wastewater Rate Increase FAQ
Why are these projects needed?
While continued growth has led to an increase in new commercial and residential connections to the city’s wastewater system, the system’s capacity has not been increased. Over the last several years, improvements to the system have largely focused on maintenance of the existing infrastructure, rather than increasing capacity due to limits in the sewer utility fund. As demand on the wastewater system increases, capacity must be increased to avoid costly system failures.
What do these projects entail?
Fishers Department of Public Works Wastewater Utility has identified three critical capital improvement projects necessary to increase the capacity to convey the wastewater to the treatment plant—currently the most pressing need. The projects are:
- The Hague Road to Allisonville Road Force Main project will replace the existing 18” pipe with a 30” pipe to increase the capabilities of the sewer system in the area and prevent any overflow of wastewater along Cumberland Rd.
- The 106th Street Force Main project will replace the existing 18” pipe with a 30” pipe from Allisonville Road to Eller Road where it will run directly to the wastewater treatment plant.
- The Smock Creek Lift Station project includes a new pipeline to transport wastewater to an underground storage facility when needed and then to the wastewater treatment plant. The Smock Creek Lift Station is a busy facility in our sewer system and can be overwhelmed during heavy rain events. The new storage facility will ensure proper storage of wastewater if the sewer system is at capacity during any given time and protect Smock Creek waterway from unhealthy sewage overflows.
How much wastewater does our system treat daily?
Currently the wastewater facilities convey and process roughly 6.5 million gallons of wastewater daily with the capacity to treat 8 million gallons daily; it is projected that within the next few years the infrastructure will be required to process roughly 12-15 million gallons daily.
How will the installation of new force mains affect roadways during construction?
Fishers Department of Public Works Wastewater Utility will be working closely with Drive Fishers to ensure a coordinated construction plan. Force main projects along Hague Road to Allisonville Road and along 106th Street will require temporary road closures.
At this time, specific details and timelines are still being coordinated. Once solidified, they will be posted on Twitter at @DriveFishers and @FishersDPW, and will be included on Drive Fishers weekly road notifications. Sign up for Fishers Alert email notifications to stay up to date.
Why not just improve the current wastewater infrastructure system rather than installing new infrastructure?
While there is still capacity at the wastewater treatment plant, the infrastructure that convey's the wastewater is beyond capacity at 6.5 million gallons a day. This critical need must be addressed proactively to eliminate risk of system failures.
Just like with homeownership, it is more cost efficient to proactively maintain the asset rather than waiting to address problems (or system failure) in a reactive way. The City of Fishers’ sewer utility, valued at over $60 million dollars, is an asset that includes the Cheeney Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, approximately 100 miles of sanitary sewer pipes and force mains, and 22 lift stations. Improvements will proactively ensure that capacity can be met as the community grows, and will offer back up reliability for system maintenance and/or emergency situations.
What is the environmental impact of these projects?
These three projects were identified as critical needs for our wastewater infrastructure partially due to concerns about wastewater overflow. Specifically at the Smock Creek Lift Station, the sewer system can be easily overwhelmed during heavy rain events. The new storage facility will ensure proper storage of wastewater when the system is at capacity during any given time. As a result, the Smock Creek waterway will be protected from unhealthy sewage overflows that affect the River Glen neighborhood and golf course.
How is the wastewater fund impacted if there is no rate increase?
This Financial Outlook with No Rate Increase Graph depicts the wastewater fund balance without a rate increase through 2023. As shown above, without an increase in revenue, and as expenses increase, the fund will be depleted. This would also negatively impact the credit rating of the fund.
How will the $5 rate increase impact the fund over the next several years?
The Financial Outlook With $5 Rate Increase Graph depicts the impact of a five dollar sewer rate increase. As illustrated, the fund balance will increase with the additional revenue, ensuring that the cost of expenditures is covered, including the three projects needed to increase capacity of the wastewater conveyance system.
How does the wastewater rate compare to surrounding communities?
Even after the proposed rate increase, Fishers residents will still be paying the lowest rate compared to surrounding communities, as illustrated above.
How will the wastewater rate increase affect HSE Utilities?
HSE Utilities is a private entity that services mainly the eastern portion of the community. Since the City treats the wastewater from HSE Utility customers, Fishers charges a wholesale rate to HSE Utilities.
We are advocating on behalf of HSE Utilities customers, so that this rate change is not used to justify a greater increase on HSE Utilities customers in the future.
How can I learn more about this project?
Residents are encouraged to visit the City of Fishers’ website to learn more about the wastewater utility and the projects detailed above. A city representative is available to discuss the needs and projects at any community meetings, if needed. Please contact us by email or at 317-595-3405 to schedule an appearance.