Marshfield could become the first city in Wisconsin to use higher water rates for the sole purpose of replacing aging water pipes. “This is something new,” said Bob Trussoni, the city’s utilities manager. “The PSC has never done this before, and there’s no guarantee that they’re going to do it now, but they’ve been open to the idea.”
The Marshfield Common Council voted to give the city-owned Marshfield Utilities permission to ask the state Public Service Commission to raise water rates by an average of three-dollars per month. Trussoni said the additional revenue captured through a higher rate of return would be earmarked exclusively for water main replacement, and would go into a segregated account within the utility’s budget.
Utility Commission President Mike Eberl said it makes more sense than borrowing millions. “PSC has not approved this in the state of Wisconsin yet, we’re asking for something unusual,” Eberl said. “It makes incredible sense to incur a little bit of extra cost today to save a little bit of money over the long term.”
Marshfield Utilities may also be getting additional funding from the state to help city residents replace lead pipes. The common council signed off on an application to seek financial assistance from the state’s Environmental Improvement Fund. John Richmond with Marshfield Utilities said the money would come from the state’s drinking water revolving loan fund, and would go directly to homeowners to help them replace lead service lines.