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General and Large Commercial Businesses Also Expected to Pay for Sewer Improvements

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Leah Uko

OMAHA (KPTM) – If you've driven anywhere east of 72nd Street, you've probably seen a lot of construction. It may be a headache, but it's expected to a higher water bill for some businesses.

A sewer separation project is a mutual agreement between the City of Omaha, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and the city's top 19 industrial businesses. Its purpose is to separate rain, snow and flood water from raw sewage water.

The city's environmental services manager, Marty Grate said the current sewer system is old and cannot handle that much water flow anymore.

"When the combined sewer system was built, it wasn't like it was a mistake or an accident or it wasn't done properly," Grate continued. "Technology has just improved over time and the regulations have gotten more stringent."

The city held a public meeting today for business owners to come and find out how much their water bills may cost if council approves the new rate structure.

Lonnie Sullivan was among the several who attended. He saw a letter about the water rates addressed to his church—Cleaves Temple.

"I was looking for a price—a fee you know," said Sullivan.

He found out the church's bill will only increase $1-$2.

"Not a big dent, just a little dent."

Construction in neighbors close to 52nd Street near Lake and Blondo has already started. The plan is to avoid increasing residents' water bills more than they're already going to.

But industrial businesses, large commercial and general commercial businesses' rates are expected to increase. Grates said their annual fee won't exceed $10,000.

"Everyone is going to see their rates go up, but we're looking at are the non-residential customers."

Rates will be determined by the size of the water meter instead of water usage.

Council is expected to vote on this by October 23rd. the new rate structure would go into effect next year.

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