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Director of Public Works explains stormwater, sewage fee increases

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Memphis City Council has voted to add fees on your utility bill.

WREG is getting the facts on an increase in stormwater and sewer fees that will affect your wallet.

The fees will be implemented over five years. By the time it’s all said and done, the average rate you'd be paying could be somewhere between $8 and $10 more.

The first rate increase will begin January 1, 2018.

"Most citizens they just want their toilets to work, they flush it and it goes away," said the director of Public Works, Robert Knecht.

However, Knecht said the problem of aging infrastructure that handles the work after the flush is not going away.

The Memphis City Council recently signed off on stormwater and sewage fee increases, but it won’t happen all at once.

By 2022, an average Memphian could pay between $8 and $10 more a month for the fees combined.

Knecht knows paying more isn’t what people want to hear.

"That’s why we spread them out over time so they’ll have a space in between these. There’s a gap between all of these increases of a year. So that they have time to get accustomed and they can prepare for them," he said.

So where’s your money going?

Knecht says right now there’s more than $1 billion in public works projects slated.

"We need to address flooding problems that are occurring across the city.”

"We also have a lot of infrastructure that’s old. We have a lot of concrete channel lines that were put in 50 years ago, and they need to be improved and addressed," he added.

Knecht also said some of the money from those added fees will go toward updating some of the city’s water plants that are in need of improvements.

"We have about 3,200 miles of sanitary sewers across the city. We also have two big wastewater plants that were put in in the '70s; both of those have to be reinvested in. We’re a modern city, we have modern needs.”

Knecht says a lot of the sewer improvements are federally required.

He also said changes in stormwater fees will impact many Memphians across the city.

"You’re going to be helping your community resolve flooding problems, and flooding affects lots of different areas.”