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Lock Haven preparing for water rate hikes for first time in 13 years

Water in front of buildings in Lock Haven, PA.
Lock Haven, Pennsylvania.

Lock Haven City Council is getting ready to raise water rates to pay for millions of dollars in repairs and upgrades to the city's water system.

Lock Haven is hiring a legal firm to go to the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission for the rate change. City manager Greg Wilson says it’s long overdue – since the last change was more than a decade ago.

“Thirteen years ago in 2010. So I don't think anyone can argue that the cost of anything is the same as it was 13 years ago,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the water fund is overdrawn by about $300,000. Lock Haven also has to make significant improvements to the Keller and Ohl dams for EPA and DEP guidelines for safety.

“Overall, they're more than $31 million worth of improvements that we have to make to the system to meet those new standards for the safety of the people who live downstream,” Wilson said.

The PUC rate increase will go toward debt service on those improvements and to the increased costs of operations. Next year, customers will see an increase of up to $100 on their water bills, according to an estimate by the law firm and financial advisor.

Wilson said the City Authority will pay for the 2024 PUC application to save customers that extra cost.

Lock Haven is continuing talks with nearby townships to potentially create a joint municipal authority, which could raise rates without PUC approval. The Lock Haven City Authority does not have the ability to increase rates on its own.

Wayne said the joint authority with Wayne and Castanea Townships was widely favored by city council and resident responses in a recent survey.

Wilson said the city has to move forward with the PUC application for next year because of application deadlines. For now, the Lock Haven City Authority will stay in place. It will have to be dissolved if the city enters a joint municipal authority.

Sydney Roach is a reporter and host for WPSU with a passion for radio and community stories.