American Waters rate increase

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JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Public Service Commission has started public hearings for a proposed water price increase for Missouri American Water customers. 

Missouri American Water wants to create a single tariff and consolidated pricing, which means all MAW customers across the state would be paying the same amount for a specific volume of water.

She said they would see a 13 percent rate increase.

The controversial issue in the case is rate consolidation. 

"The cost to serve the customers is very similar all across the state and we believe that it makes water and water, water services across the state affordable for all our customers. So if you live in a small community and have a large capitol project you're not dividing the cost of that capitol project amongst just a few customers, you can spread it across the state," President of Missouri American Water, Cheryl Norton said. 

Different organizations and the public were allowed to voice their opinions.

The room appeared to be slightly in favor of the consolidated pricing.

William Steinmeier, a lawyer who said he's representing St. Joseph, was one of the people against it.

"We worked hard on a settlement that will significantly reduce the amount of the overall rate increase, but we also have our own position against statewide rates. The company is proposing one rate statewide for anybody who is a Missouri American customer our clients believe costs should be paid by the cost-causer."

Steinmeier said paying for other cities' replacements isn't fair.

"St. Joseph, for example, had a new treatment plant a $70 million treatment plant built in 1999, we've been paying for it, St. Joseph customers have been paying for it since the year 2000 with no subsidies from other Missouri American customers, now they want St. Joseph customers to help subsidies customers in other parts of the state?

Norton said MAW filed the rate increase in June 2017 to recoup money spent on capital expenses. 

"We've made a lot of capital improvements throughout the state and we've invested between $450-$500 million worth of capital to improve the infrastructure. Infrastructure in water and waste systems across the U.S. are really struggling to keep up with the needs and investments that are needed across the state," she said. 

Some of the changes included main replacements, projects treatment and plant upgrades

"A lot of it is rebuilding or reworking existing facilities that have just reached their useful life," Norton said.

The hearings will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 8 and 1:30 p.m. on Friday, March 9.

The rates will not change until the commission reviews the request.