Greene County to adjust water rates in pursuit of softer water

Construction on $44.5 million water treatment plant could begin as early as June.

Greene County water and sewer customers will see some changes in their bills starting next year as the county works to provide softer water and service to more areas.

Commissioners Thursday approved an increase in water rates by 3%, balanced by a decrease in sewer rates by 2.25%, both of which start on Jan. 1.

Residential water and sewer customers using an average of 6,000 gallons per month will see no change in their monthly bill, according to county documents. Customers using less than 6,000 gallons will see a slight increase in their water rate, while users getting over 6,000 gallons may see a slight decrease.

County officials say that the rebalanced rate pays for softer water and increased reliability of the county’s water system. Commissioners Thursday also authorized a $44.5 million contract for the Northwest Regional Water Treatment Plant upgrade, part of the county’s long-term campaign to modernize its water systems. Shook Construction and engineering firm AECOM, which designed the facility, will oversee construction.

Originally estimated at $38 million, the jump in price tag is due to both increasing the scope of the project, and inflation costs, Greene County Sanitary Engineering Director Jason Tincu said.

The project will increase the county’s water system capacity from 9.5 million to 12 million gallons per day, and lay the “footprint” for increasing capacity to 16 million gallons per day, Tincu said. The upgrades will also include membrane water softening, or a large-scale reverse osmosis filtration system, which will reduce Greene County’s hard water level from the current 30 grains per gallon to about nine, which is on par with the levels in surrounding communities.

Greene County households should be able to use 60% less salt in their softeners once the upgrades are complete, saving homeowners time and money, Tincu said.

“The Greene County market has been hot,” Tincu told commissioners Thursday. “Who knows what the economy is going to do, but we will have the footprint to expand to 16 (million) eventually.”

Greene County customers pay about $302 per quarter for combined water and sewer, on par with the average annual cost of communities in southwest Ohio. Dayton residents pay about $194 annually, while Miami County residents pay roughly $458.

Construction on the Northwest Regional Water Treatment Plant could start by as early as June, and is expected to complete by 2024.

Greene County has 26,000 sewer customers,18,000 water customers, and about 1,000 water-only customers that will see an increase in their bill. The planned improvements, including booster stations that were approved earlier this year, will provide water to areas that are currently served by Dayton and Montgomery County. Greene County pays about $500,000 per year to Montgomery County to serve those areas.

“Probably in 2024, we’ll be able to see some of those savings,” Tincu said.

The county is about 30% of the way through a complete metering system upgrade, and is establishing permanent well casings at the new Hilltop Wellfield, located on a 57-acre property on Hilltop Road.

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