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Raw sewage and storm water flow into the St. Marys River from the Third Street pumping station.

Raw-sewage cleanup plan would increase rates 49%

FORT WAYNE – City Utilities officials are about to start the second phase of their 18-year, $240 million plan to prevent raw sewage from overflowing into the rivers, and they are rolling out the proposed rate increases to pay for it.

Under the plan unveiled to reporters Monday, rates will increase each year for five years, for a total hike of 49 percent.

“No rate increase is going to be easy,” said Kumar Menon, director of Fort Wayne City Utilities. “But even with these higher rates, we will still stay competitive in the region.”

Officials are proposing to increase sewer rates an average of $3.44 a month for the average household each of the five years, which Menon called “about a dime a day for our rivers.”

The city is under a consent decree with the federal government to nearly eliminate the times its sewer system overflows into the three rivers. Currently, this happens about 70 times a year, polluting the rivers with about 1 billion gallons of untreated sewage.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit after 3 a.m. Tuesday.