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Water rates could be increasing in the Treasure Valley

The request follows a $70 million investment to improve water quality and resiliency for homes and businesses made over the last two years.

BOISE, Idaho — Residents in the Treasure Valley could be seeing an increase in their water bills, after Veolia filed a request with Idaho Public Utilities Commission to raise rates.

Veolia Environment, which merged with Suez earlier this year, is one of the largest water companies in the world. It is now one of the largest water suppliers in the Treasure Valley.

The request follows a $70 million investment to improve water quality and resiliency for homes and businesses made over the last two years.

According to a press release, "the company [Veolia] enhanced water quality, storage capacity and fire suppression for over 105,000 homes and businesses in the region, and acquired a new water system - Eagle Water Company."

The improvements equal an average investment of approximately $660 per customer, according to Veolia. If the commission approves the request, the average residential customer would have their rates adjusted by about 25 cents a day. 

"The investments we made in Idaho over the last two years directly improved water quality, service reliability and safety for our customers," Marshall Thompson, Vice President and General Manager of Veolia's Idaho operations said. "We continue to increase the life of the water system so that it can be relied upon for many years to come."

Veolia claims Idaho customers will continue paying below or similar to other water utility companies in the valley, despite the large investments in the water system and increases to water bills.

"We are grateful to serve communities across the nation and will continue to work every day to gain the trust of our customers," Karine Rouge, CEO of Veolia North America's Municipal Water division said. "The investments in water infrastructure we have made in Idaho are for our customers so they and future generations can continue to enjoy access to safe, clean water at a reasonable price, regardless of income levels." 

The commission will have the option to accept, reject or modify the request, but the process will likely take several months. 

If the commission chooses to approve the request in full, customer bills would be adjusted by 24.1%. According to the press release, the average residential bill would increase by $0.25 a day, or about $7.59 per month. For commercial businesses, the average bill will increase by $0.93 a day, or about $27.92 a month, and the average public authority bill would increase by $0.85 a day, or about $25.46 per month. 

Customers in the Legacy Eagle Water Company area will slowly have their rates phased over, with the average bill increasing by about 15 cents a day or by $4.43 per month. Commercial businesses could see an increase of 54 cents per day or about $16.29 a month, and public authorities could see water bills increase by 50 cents a day, or about $14.85 a month. 

The company's revenue would also increase by about 23.4%, bringing in nearly $12.1 million per year. 

Some of Veolia's larger investments include:

  • Eagle Water Company Acquisition: $10.5M acquisition that adds approximately 4,200 homes. Residents benefit from 24-hour monitoring of the system to enhance safety and service reliability.
  • Columbia Water Treatment Plant New Clearwell Tank: $3.5M construction serving Southeast Boise. Adds storage capacity and fire protection.
  • Taggart Well Facility Filtration Treatment System: $1.7M project that improved water quality in the Boise Bench.
  • Whistle Pig Storage Tank: $6.2M storage tank in Southwest Boise Improves water pressure, fire protection and capacity for customers.
  • Ice Pigging in East First Bench: a pipe cleaning technique that removes sediment and buildup from water mains.
  • Vactor Truck: helps remove debris that might be left in pipes after maintenance or repair.

The company is also working to keep operating costs low, by installing energy-efficient motors and negotiating bulk orders with large suppliers. Veolia is partnering with Idaho Power as well, to optimize energy usage. 

"Our work in the Treasure Valley not only brings direct benefit to customers' water service, it helps bolster the local economy through employment of local residents and contractors," Thompson said. 

Veolia has created assistance programs to help with bills for residents in Idaho who may be experiencing financial challenges. Veolia Cares is a non-profit organization that provides customers with temporary assistance for water bills.

The company also works with the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), a federally funded program administered by individual states to help low-income households with past due water bills.

Individual households are able to apply for up to $2,500 to go towards paying their water debt. Customers can visit the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare website to get more information. 

"We encourage customers who may need help to take advantage of these programs if they have not done so already. While water bills are often the smallest part of a household budget, every little bit helps," Rouge said.

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