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Before connecting the two water systems, workers had to assemble a manifold of 16-inch pipes and valves.

SALTILLO • Starting Dec. 1, everyone who receives water from the city of Saltillo will pay the same rate, with an average monthly bill being $32.

On Tuesday, the Mississippi Public Service Commission formally approved the first rate hike in a dozen years for the 167 customers who live the farthest away. Under state law, the commission must approve any rate changes for customers who live more than 1 mile from the city limits.

That approval was delayed when one customer contested the hike that would cause their average water bill to go from $20.75, where it has been since 2007, to $32. Northern district commissioner Brandon Presley said his office had already started the extra notification process to hold a hearing when the customer changed their mind.

“The citizen that filed an objection to the Saltillo rate increase has withdrawn his objection and the rate increase was approved today,” Presley said Tuesday morning.

In late August, aldermen approved a new rate schedule which makes the average water bill around $32 for 4,500 gallons of water. Every water customer, regardless of where they live, will now pay $17.50 for the first 2,000 gallons and $5.80 for each additional 1,000 gallons.

The city postponed the start of the new billing to allow the water department to complete the switch from well water to surface water. The delay also gave the PSC plenty of time to hear any complaints and approve the new rate structure.

In anticipation of the $250,000 project to connect the city’s water system with the Northeast Mississippi Regional Water Supply District, the city raised rates for customers living within 1 mile of the city limits in January. Since March, those customers have been paying about 30 percent more than before.

With the PSC approval, officials hope to switch over to the new rate structure Dec. 1.

The city began the process of physically connecting to the water district network earlier this month. The city should have no problems meeting the self-imposed Dec. 31 deadline to have surface water collected and treated at Peppertown flow through the Saltillo pipes.

When the switch is finally made, the city plans to flush the system several times to get rid of sediment and any mineral deposits that could be knocked loose by water flowing backwards through pipes.

william.moore@journalinc.com

Twitter:@WilliamMoore_DJ

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