Groveport may soon have to make a decision on whether or not to continue to maintain its own water system.
A water rate study completed by EMH&T, which updates a previous 2005 study, indicates that "the comparison of the projected water rate for village customers to that of the Columbus customers is only favorable with the expansion of the service area for the (village) water system."
The study plotted out future village water rates based on two scenarios – one with no future expansion of the Groveport water service area and one assuming a 3.7 percent increase in the village service area. The study found:
•With a 3.7 percent Groveport water system growth rate, the village water rates would increase up to a rate of $6.04 per 1,000 gallons ($48.33 per month assuming use of 8,000 gallons per month) by 2013. This would be less than the projected rate of $54.36 per month assuming use of 8,000 gallons a month for village residents on Columbus water.
•Without expansion of the Groveport water service area, the village water rate would rise to $9.98 per 1,000 gallons ($82.72 per month assuming 8,000 gallons a month used) by 2013. This figure is higher than the projected rate of $54.36 per month assuming use of 8,000 gallons a month for village residents on Columbus water.
The rate increases would be needed to fund capital water improvements, such as a new water tower, new water lines, and an upgrade or replacement of the existing Groveport water plant. The plant was built in 1936 and has been refurbished several times over the years. According to village officials, the village water plant would have to be upgraded again or replaced by 2012 after it reaches its capacity.
According to the EMH&T study, within Groveport’s existing water service area there are only 26 platted lots still to be developed and they will be built out by 2008, not enough to sustain a 3.7 percent growth for the water system.
The study outlined other areas where Groveport could expand its water system to achieve the growth it would need to keep the rates from rising too swiftly. These areas include land north of Corbett/Ebright roads to Elmont Place; southeast to Little Walnut Creek; east to Rager Road; and northeast along Sims Road.
Village Administrator Jon Crusey said the national housing crunch is being reflected in the slow residential development in Groveport. He said without more water customers, "a smaller number of people will have to support the costs."
"Even if the markets turn around we won’t see growth for several years," added Crusey. "Plus, the potential growth areas for the water system are in floodplains, which are costly to develop."
According to Finance Director Ken Salak, the Groveport water system has 1,155 customers. This includes 1,085 residences, 59 businesses, and 11 governmental buildings. The Columbus water system within the village limits has 829 customers, including 765 residences and 64 businesses.
"It is important that council understand the ramifications of moving forward with improvements (water tower, new water plant) to the Groveport water system given the uncertainty of future growth of the Groveport water system," reported Crusey.
"This is hard to swallow. Have we reached the point where we can’t afford our own water system? asked Councilwoman Jean Ann Hilbert. "We’re at the point where our residents need to let us know if we should continue with our own water plant."
Councilman Ed Rarey expressed misgivings about the village giving up local control of its water.
Responded Crusey, "Ninety-five percent of the new growth in the village is on the Columbus water grid. Whatever control you had, you don’t have any more."
Council will discuss the issue further at its Jan. 22 committee of the whole meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the municipal building, 655 Blacklick St.