People in Greenville could soon see their water and sewage rates double.
Aging pipes and low rates have left the city in a difficult position.
Curt Garrison, safety service director, said there are water lines more than 100 years old. This is just part of the problems he said the city is facing as officials try to maintain the city’s water service and keep the water clean.
“The water lines that were put in the ground 100 years ago were generally a cast iron product,” Garrison said. "That cast-iron overtime erodes from the inside out. We have pipe that we've taken out of the ground that literally a six-inch pipe has been reduced to anywhere from four to two inches. What happens when it erodes all the way? It breaks."
It’s not just that there’s several pipes that are old and at a greater risk of breaking, but Garrison said there’s a possibility Greenville could be in a similar situation that Dayton faced in February 2019 when a water main break forced schools and businesses to shut down as people were left with unsafe drinking water.
“The significance of what happened in Dayton was the water line happened to be underneath a river,” Garrison said. “Our water lines are underneath a creek.”
"If we have that leak out in the system and we're not able to isolate it, there's a likely chance that the town would depressurize and that's when we go to boil advisories, that's when we go to do not use any of the water, that's when public panic sets in."
To make matters worse, if something like this were to happen Greenville only has about 12 hours’ worth of water above ground -- half of what is recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"We need another water tower based upon the EPA recommendations that would get us at least two million gallons of above ground water, right now we only have one million," Garrison said.
The potential rate increase is still being discussed. If rates were to double it could mean a monthly increase of about $11 to about $65.
“The folks least impacted by this rate increase would be our single people, our retired couples,” Garrison said.
According Gary Evans II, Greenville’s superintendent of water distribution and utilities, about 24% of residents would see a monthly increase of about $11.23 and another 24% would see an increase of $14.17 to $25.93 per month.
Garrison said people like him that have large families would see a larger increase in their monthly billing with this rate hike.
Garrison said the rate increase is more about preparing for the future and making sure the city has the needed funds to address issues when the time comes.
“When we look at our long-term planning is to be able to fund these infrastructure programs and pay cash for them,” Garrison said. “We’re trying to put the city of Greenville in a position when it comes time to build a new plant that we have the funds available to do that.”
One of the other problems facing Greenville’s water supply, according to Evans, is the city had one of the most consistent results for cryptosporidium in Ohio.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, cryptosporidium is a microscopic parasite that causes the diarrheal disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as “Cyrpto.” The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods and makes it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection.
Greenville is one of six cities in Ohio that needs additional water treatments because of increased contamination. Those contaminates can come from as far away as Indiana.