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New Haven council OKs 42% increase in sewer rates

– New Haven residents are expected to see new sewer rates by July.

The City Council unanimously gave final approval Tuesday to a 42 percent rate increase. The new rates must first be published, and the first bill reflecting those rates would be in July, said Brenda Adams, the city’s clerk-treasurer.

A customer using 5,000 gallons of water a month – sewage rates are calculated by water usage – will pay $75.35 a month, up from $53.06 a month.

About 75 residents showed up at a public hearing two weeks ago, many questioning the need for increased rates but many also telling horror stories of backed-up sewage in homes and roads after heavy rains.

The city has already begun addressing those problems, Mayor Terry McDonald said.

The utilities department is starting with the downtown area, where several residents have previously complained about sewers and flooding.

The city is cleaning out sewers, fixing faulty manholes and will smoke-test for leaky pipes in mid-June, Utility Superintendent Dave Jones said.

New Haven owns its own conveyance system but pumps its wastewater to Fort Wayne City Utilities for treatment and is charged a bulk rate.

New Haven is trying to control the amount of stormwater overflowing into the wastewater system to reduce the amount of wastewater pumped to Fort Wayne during heavy rains. Those rains can cause combined-sewer overflows and increased treatment costs.

New Haven will also start working on a sanitary sewer project, replacing lines in the Country Knoll subdivision, said Keith Schlegel, the city’s director of engineering.

Residents in the subdivision – near the southwest corner of Moeller and Green roads – have reported flooding and sewer backup problems during wet weather.

“We’ve mapped out the neighborhood and will replace 10-inch pipes with 15-inch pipes for all those homes,” Schlegel said.

Bids for that project should go out in late summer or early fall, he said.