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Water Rate Debate - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Water Rate Debate

Shreveport has been dealing with poor water and sewer pipes for years and now the federal government says it's time to clean up our act. And that means more money out of your pocket. Monthly bills will triple for some homeowners. But we wanted to know if big businesses in the area can expect the same rise in rates... Or are they exempt because they bring jobs into the area? Woodrow Wilson Jr. is the Caddo Parish Administrator. He said, "Every community across the united states has to give incentives to businesses coming to their community, otherwise no one would come. They go where the cost of operating is feasible."

But now that water customers in Shreveport expect their rates to quadruple in some cases, we wanted to find out if industrial customers would share the increased burden. Water discount rates were given to companies like Pratt Industries, a recycling company, and to Benteler steel, which will open at the Port of Shreveport-Bossier in coming years. Wilson and other local officials were important in attracting companies like Pratt and Benteler to the area.

Right now companies like Pratt pay $2.13 for every thousand gallons of water they use.  With the proposed 26 percent increase, Pratt -- like residential users -- would pay $2.68 for every thousand gallons. And so will Benteler. Wilson said, "That commercial rate is nothing magical. All major utility companies provide that because they consume a very large quantity of it." Pratt uses about 23 million gallons of water a month.  Benteler is expected to use more than 5 million gallons a month. But consider the Summer of 2011 when high temperatures and low rainfall pushed overall demand so high that the city approached its maximum capacity for water treatment.  The city never rationed water, but it did make appeals to residents to cut back on watering lawns and washing cars. Still there were no rate policies to push heavy industrial users to conserve or to  use partially treated grey water instead of drinking water.  The city has even run a grey water supply line to Pratt's plant at the port. Wilson said, grey water is very useful for industrial purposes. "They use it for industry process, for cooling, and manufacturing where it doesn't have to meet high quality standards in terms of drinking." Barbara Featherston, Interim Director of Shreveport's Water and Sewer Department says the city is working with Pratt to eventually use grey water.  

Both Pratt and Benteler receive in city rates even though they operate at the port, which is outside of Shreveport city limits.

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