Saturday, March 29, 2003

Say goodbye to low pressure, hello to higher rates

New Boone County water system is up and running

By Brenna R. Kelly
The Cincinnati Enquirer

BURLINGTON - There's more water flowing in Boone County, but residents likely won't notice until this summer - on their bills.

On March 4, water from Cincinnati began flowing into Boone County through a 36-inch, 5-mile-long pipe under the Ohio River.

"You couldn't ask for anything to be running any better," said Phil Trzop, general manager of the Boone County Water District. "We are very pleased."

While Florence and Boone water officials are excited about the new system, they say customers probably can't sense much change yet.

Trzop said his water district hasn't received any complaints about a change in taste or any compliments about increased water pressure.

But Trzop expects to get a few calls April 1 when Boone County customers get water bills that are $5 higher because of the new system. And Florence's water rates will more than double.

The system is designed to alleviate the low water pressure residents experienced during last summer's drought. Even if this summer is a scorcher, officials say it shouldn't bring a repeat of last year, when water sometimes barely trickled out of faucets.

"What they won't experience is low pressure," Trzop said. "Flow won't be an issue and they won't even call to say thank you."

But free-flowing water may elicit a thank you from Marc Rulli, who had to close his Hebron Gold Star Chili several times last year because the restaurant had no water.

"It would go from a trickle of water to no water,'' Rulli said. The restaurant resorted to melting ice to wash dishes and serving soft drinks from 2-liter bottles.

By mid-June this year, there will be 5 million gallons of water stored in three water towers to deal with any increased demand, Trzop said.

The low pressure was a result of a small pipe that could not meet the demand for water in fast-growing Boone County. Water officials will know for sure that the problem is fixed when there's a heavy demand on the system.

"Eleven million (gallons per day demand) is when we find out how strong we are,'' Trzop said. The county is operating at about 4 million gallons per day this week.

The project cost $66 million, with the Boone-Florence Water Commission paying $42 million and Cincinnati Water Works paying the rest.

A 29-year contract was signed in 1999 between Cincinnati Water Worksand the Boone-Florence water commission, which was formed by the Boone County Water District and Florence Water and Sewer Commission specifically for the project.

The debt will be paid through a rate increase. Boone County residents will pay $5 more per month beginning in April, while Florence residents' rates will increase from $1.57 per 100 cubic feet (748 gallons) of water to $3.21.


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