Citizens Energy Group proposes raising rates for water, sewer to fund improvements

Utility petitions IURC

INDIANAPOLIS - Citizens Energy Group wants to boost sewer rates by nearly 50 percent over the next two years, a move the utility says would fund $560 million in system improvements.

Citizens filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Thursday seeking increases in water and wastewater rates.

If approved, water bills would go up about $3 a month, from $31 to $34, starting next year.

Sewer bills would increase about $10 per month, from $30 to $40, and another $4 per month, from $40 to $44, in October 2014.

Utility officials said the rate hikes are necessary to fund nearly $114 million in water system improvements and nearly $444 million in wastewater system additions, many of which are mandated by the federal government.

That includes the construction of an underground tunnel system to better capture raw sewage.

"In order to continue investing in projects that remove raw sewage from our rivers and streams and that improve the quality of our drinking water, rate increases are necessary," President and CEO Carey Lykins said in a statement.

Removing the raw sewage from the waterways would make them available for recreation too, said spokeswoman Sarah Holsapple. 

"It'll be really neat in 2025 when this deep rock tunnel system is finished to actually see people use the waterways as recreation," she said.

Holsapple said Indianapolis expels 5 billion to 6 billion gallons of raw sewage into waterways every year.

Citizens said it has saved more than $112 million annually by combining water, wastewater, gas, steam and chilled water utilities.

Citizens Energy said it's offering more financial assistance than in the past. To contact the utility, click here.

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