Discover more from The Wausonian
A breakdown of your increasing water bill
Some charts and data that help show why your water bill will continue to increase through 2032 (but, the worst is definitely next year)
It’s probably no secret by now — about halfway next year your water bill is going to skyrocket.
How much? It’ll in increase 65% under the current plan. And there are further increases of 3% in 2025 and 2027. Increases are also coming on the sewer side. So basically your utility bill will increase nearly every year.
Why? So the city can pay for its new wastewater and drinking water treatment plants. Debt service on those plants starts next year, and will cost $3.7 million and will increase from there. In fact, here’s a chart showing the increase in debt service every year1:
To fund that, customers of Wausau Water Works will foot the bill via increased rates. Next year bills will increase by 65%. Then in 2025 there will be another 3% increase, then the same in 2027.
That’s not all. Sewer rates will also increase, and while next year they only increase 5%, they will increase 10% in 2024, 5% in 2026, 5% in 2029 and 5% in 2032.
Your actual bill
What will that look like on your bill? Someone paying $84.66 on their quarterly bill for water will starting halfway through next year pay $139.66. That’s a $55 increase.
Subsequent increases will be roughly $5 ($4.19 and $4.39 respectively).
A $124.94 sewer bill right now will be $131.19 next year. By 2029 it’ll be $159.10.
So by 2029, your total bill for sewer and water will have increased from $209.60 per quarter to $307.34 ($148.24 water + $159.10 sewer).
Or put more simply, here is your typical annual utility bill and how much it will increase every year:
You can see the especially big jump in 2023 but also, that the pain isn’t over.
Can anything be done?
Probably not. Commissioner John Robinson expressed concern about how this will impact low income residents who already might be struggling. Though inflation is falling, it’s still well above the Fed’s 2% target (latest number as of this writing is 7.1% year over year).
People are already facing everything being more expensive that a couple of years ago. This will hurt more.
Mayor Katie Rosenberg suggested the possibility of doing monthly bills instead of quarterly. That doesn’t do anything to lower costs of course but it does reduce some of the sticker shock.
But as city finance director Maryanne Groat mentioned, the projects were built and they need to be paid for. So the rate hikes are necessary to pay for them.
As many have pointed out, however, even with brand new facilities the city didn’t plan properly for PFAS mitigation and is now spending millions on a filtration system (hopefully receiving grant money to cover the costs).
The increase in bills comes at a time when residents are already struggling with the impacts of inflation. As well as proposed rate hikes for gas and electricity. Hard to believe there was a time when officials were telling us there was no inflation.
Thank you for reading The Wausonian, and thanks to all our contributing subscribers! If you’d like to join them and help support The Wausonian, please click below and subscribe to become one of our paying members, and see all The Wausonian has to offer!
All charts are coded by me in Python using the matplotlib library set. I use the Mu editor and occasionally get ideas from ChatGPT.