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City approves Columbia Water's $85 million request

The agency plans to use the money to improve the quality of the water.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — On Tuesday, Columbia City Council voted to approve Columbia Water's request for $85 million. That money will go towards improving the quality of the water. 

Clint Shealy with Columbia Water said it's routine ask for help to pay off upcoming and current projects within the agency. 

“This is one of our routine bond sales," Shealy said. "You’ll notice, I think this is second reading. We had entertained this a few months ago."

Previously, the agency presented a similar proposal for $120 million. City Council on Tuesday approved a revised request for $85 million. 

A question among residents about this much money coming from the City of Columbia: “I just worry how are people going to afford it,” one resident said.

According to Shealy, it's not coming out of taxpayer pockets. “It’s all from water and sewer rates that our ratepayers will pay. So, we’ll be utilizing those rates," he said.

RELATED: Century-old pipes causing present-day drainage problems in Columbia

This fiscal year started July 1st, and this year Columbia didn't implement a rate increase. But in 2021, the agency issued a 5.02 percent increase.

“But that 5.02 percent rate increase contemplated this list of capital projects and improvements and things we need to do for the system,” Shealy said.

With no rate increase, two Columbia residents News19 spoke with said they're for the approval.

“Well, I know we’ve had a lot of problems with our water and we need clean water, and I think it’s something that the City Council needs to seriously consider," Jackie Richards said. "That’s a lot of money, but if it's protecting our health and our safety, then I think it’s really important." 

RELATED: City council concerned about plumbing repair costs for homeowners

“We could definitely use the money to rehabilitate our water systems," Anand Ambrosi said. "I know we have a lot of old piping and it’s pretty limiting and sometimes there are parts of the city under boil water notices, which is not ideal." 

Columbia Water plans to use most of this money to go toward replacing decades-old pipes throughout the city. They say those new pipes should make the water out of the faucet better. 

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