COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia Water customers could soon be paying a little more every month.
On Tuesday, Columbia City Council gave first approval to a five percent increase to water and sewer bills.
The rates need a second approval from the council before they take effect on July 1. Assistant City Manager Clint Shealy said the money is needed to help fight inflation and finish critical infrastructure projects.
“Costs have escalated, and we need to keep up with that escalation," said Shealy.
Shealy said the average family of four using about 6,000 gallons of water per month will see a $3.39 increase in their monthly bill. The bill will go up another five percent each year until 2027.
Columbia Water bills are already draining customers like LaMorris Boyles.
“It's ridiculous. I think it’s extremely high," said Boyles. "Pay increases are not moving, I just don't think it's fair, and I don't think it’s going to help people in the long run."
“If the water bill goes up for me, that really affects me and my ability to pay rent and my other bills, and on a teacher's salary, it makes it difficult for me to live day-to-day," said Columbia resident Stephanie Walker.
Shealy said the increase will bring in nearly $9 million a year in additional funding, which will help finish projects in Rosewood, Shandon, and Forest Acres.
“Renew the water piping there, resolve some of the discolored water complaints we may have, some of the leaks we keep having," said Shealy.
Shealy added the money will also help the city finish updates to its wastewater system, as required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Shealy said the city has received a $10 million grant from the Rural Infrastructure Authority to help fund a sewer capacity project.
If Columbia Water needs less money in the future, the council could look at reducing rates again.