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MESSAGE FROM THE MAYOR: CITY WATER

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MAYOR TOM HENRYWater. We need it to live. And Fort Wayne City Utilities' customers can rely on great-tasting, safe, low-cost water every day.

Turn on the tap, and it's there for drinking and all our needs. Call on the Fire Department for an emergency, and there will be water streaming at the right pressure to save lives and protect property. On the job, there's an uninterrupted supply of water to power our industries and businesses, ensuring good jobs.
What you may not realize is that City Utilities' also has one of the lowest water rates in our region and across the state. But to meet expectations and to remain competitive, we must invest in our system to keep it strong.

For the first time in nearly seven years, City Utilities has asked for a rate increase. The change will be phased in over a three-year period beginning in 2013. Let me tell you why.

Water main breaks are on the rise due to the age of our system. With nearly 1,000 water main breaks in the past two years, the cost of emergency repairs is soaring.

City Utilities maintains nearly 1,200 miles of underground pipes that carry water. It costs about $5,600 on average to fix a break involving one foot of pipe. In comparison, the cost to proactively replace a foot of pipe is only between $100 and $200. By replacing pipes in a timely way, we can reduce emergency repairs, minimize disruptions and enhance our fire service.

City Utilities has a plan to do that, but not the funds. Industry standards suggest City Utilities should be replacing 1 percent or about 12 miles of water main each year. For several years, City Utilities' income has stayed flat while electricity, chemicals, fuel and other fixed costs have been going up. In addition, the utility must meet the demands of unfunded federal and state mandates that add to its burdens. These challenges mean we have only been able to replace a few miles of pipe per year.

Water bills paid by customers are City Utilities' only source of revenue. As a not-for-profit municipal utility, all of its revenues are reinvested back into the system to keep it vital.

Waynedale will benefit directly from these new resources, allowing City Utilities to make much-needed improvements in some hard-hit areas. Here are the priorities:
•A water main replacement project for Bluffton and Lower Huntington roads is scheduled to be done this year – Waynewood from Bluffton Road to Liberty Drive alone has had 25 main breaks. We're also working to incorporate some sidewalk improvements on Bluffton Road, south of Lower Huntington Road;
•Maplewood Road from Bluffton Road to Amherst Drive;
•Bluffton Road from Rehm Drive to Dale Drive;
•Bluffton Road from Interlaken Drive to Old Trail;
•Lower Huntington Road from Old Trail to Bluffton Road; and
•Bluffton Road from Dade Drive to Gilford Drive.

City Utilities has already completed several main replacements in Waynedale, including much of Indian Village, Fernwood, Corvallis and Belle Vista.
Your City Utilities delivers the No.1-ranked water in Indiana directly to your faucets for about $0.83 a day, or less than $0.002 per gallon.

We all know a rate increase is the last choice, but our commitment to public health and fire protection and our pledge to bring citizens reliable, top-quality water for just pennies a day require we act now.

City Utilities' water is an exceptional value. By investing in our water system today, we can ensure that it will remain that way long into the future.

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Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry
About This Author
A lifelong Fort Wayne resident, Mayor Thomas C. Henry is committed to public and community service. He was elected to his first term as Fort Wayne's Mayor November 6, 2007. Mayor Henry authors the "Message from the Mayor" column.
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