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DU drafts sewer ordinance revision
Industrial customers likely to see rates rise

By Evan Belanger 340-2442

Proposed changes to the city's sewer ordinance could increase expenses for Decatur Utilities' 60-plus industrial customers.

Since January, DU officials have been working on updating the more than 20-year-old ordinance. They presented a draft of the proposed changes to dozens of industrial customers at a special meeting Thursday.

Stanley Keenum, DU interim manager, said the purpose of the meeting was to solicit input from the DU customers who will be affected by the changes.

He said the changes are designed to help DU recover costs of servicing industrial customers and to protect the sewer-treatment plant and the public from potentially harmful wastes that might enter the system.

In general, the updated ordinance increases expenses for sewer customers who discharge more than 25,000 gallons of wastewater per day.

It does this by monitoring industrial customers' output levels of 12 chemicals considered to be harmful or difficult to treat. The previous ordinance only monitored three chemicals.

Those who exceed predetermined thresholds will be charged extra, depending on the level of output. Fees range from 3 cents to $1 per pound of chemical.

While the changes are not designed to turn a profit for the DU, Keenum said, the sewer program will be in the red by 2010 without them.

Other changes in the ordinance would help DU more closely monitor output levels from industrial customers and require new industrial customers to get authorization before discharging into the system.

"Decatur can't continue what they're doing now. They have to recover some of the cost of service," said Joe Downey, a consultant who has been working with DU for several months.

Keenum said DU hopes to present the updated ordinance to the utilities board in October or November. The City Council also must approve the ordinance before it takes effect.

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