The Norman Transcript

Opinion

November 4, 2013

Sewer rate increase needed

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

Fellow Norman citizens,

We write this letter to address an important matter before our great city. When we go to the polls on Nov. 12, we will have the opportunity to be proactive and avoid an impending crisis regarding wastewater.

There are two major reasons we are called to action now: (1) Current wastewater treatment and reclamation facilities (some 50 to 60 years old) are operating near capacity, and expansion is needed for our city to continue to grow and thrive, and (2) new, stricter state regulations require better treatment of our wastewater to protect the Canadian River and our environment.

The Norman Citizens’ Wastewater Oversight Committee has watched over wastewater issues for more than a decade. The committee recommended that the city call the election for a rate increase and also recommended that the city increase both the base rate and the commodity rate.

The city council structured the rate increase proposal in alignment with the committee’s recommendation. In short, the city council listened to Norman citizens and structured the question on the ballot as recommended by the committee.

The question before voters is should we increase our sewer utility rates. These rates have not increased in 17 years. According to city of Norman projections, the average residential customer can expect an increase in their monthly utility bill of $3.74.

Improved treatment is also needed now to avoid fines beginning as early as July 1. These fines could be as high as $10,000 per day and would be paid by us, Norman citizens. These fines would do nothing to mitigate the environmental concerns; it would merely take money out of our pockets and send it to the state.

Further, the cost of these fines to each Norman household could far exceed the monthly cost of the proposed rate increase.

The choice is simple, we can either choose to be proactive and position our city as a good steward of our natural resources so our growth can continue while saving ourselves money in the process, or we can choose to be penny-wise but pound-foolish.

We, the Norman Citizens Wastewater Oversight Committee strongly recommend the proactive approach and a “yes” vote Nov. 12.

Norman Citizens Wastewater

Oversight Committee

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