SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Ordinances regarding potential rate increases for some public utilities in Sioux Falls are making their way through the city council.
The increases would be for water purification, sewer, storm drainage and sanitary landfill. The last time rates were set for utilities was in 2019.
At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, nine ordinances were introduced for a first reading. Director of Public Works, Mark Cotter, presented on each increase and why they believe it’s necessary.
“Operational expenses, maintenance, equipment and those key capital projects that are prioritized infrastructure to make sure that we can maintain our current systems, but also expand and maintain the utility services for growth. Utility rates are routinely evaluated to ensure the revenues meet the expected expenses,” Cotter said.
All nine ordinances move to a second reading to be voted on in the coming weeks.
Two of four utilities that could see an increase and affect the most people in Sioux Falls are water purification and sewer treatment.
Last week, we brought you inside the water reclamation plant to see how your dollars are put to use to treat the city’s wastewater.
Now, we take you inside the Sioux Falls Water Purification Plant to show you how your clean water is treated.
Water superintendent, Chris Myers, says 8.1 billion gallons of clean water is used annually in Sioux Falls. Just under half of that is purified at the city’s plant.
Every time you turn on the faucet in Sioux Falls, that clean water is either coming from the Missouri River, as part of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, or local aquifers and the Big Sioux River near the water purification plant by the airport.
As that “raw water” comes into the plant, it is put into a large lime softening basin, which holds about 375,000 gallons of water.
“We’re currently running a flow rate of approximately 10 million gallons per day. At 10 millions gallons a day, that’s 6,940 gallons per minute,” Myers said.
In this process, they adjust the water’s pH level to take out the hardness using chemicals.
“We’re then readjusting the pH back down to levels where the water tastes good and is stabilized for our piping system. Then we’re taking that water, after the pH is stabilized, we’re taking it through a filtration system,” Myers said.
After it is filtered, the water makes its way into the disinfection process where they add chlorine to the water and it’s stored in a “clear well.”
“All underground in front of us here, there’s a 4 million gallon storage bunker,” Myers said.
As soon as the water is clean and ready for distribution, it is pumped out of the plant to more than 940 miles of pipes across the city.
However, this plant contributes to just under half of the water Sioux Falls uses — 17.1 million gallons per day is pumped to the city from the Missouri River that’s purified at a plant near Vermillion. It’s all part of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, which Myers says contributed 56% of all Sioux Falls clean water last year.
City of Sioux Falls utility administrator, Ryan Johnson, says the utility rate increases are being used to run, maintain and upgrade the city’s plant, but it also helps with expansion of the Lewis and Clark System.
“We are going to be part of expanding that facility another 15 million gallons, up to 60 million gallons. Of that, we’re going to be getting about 34.4 million gallons, and so that will really enhance our water inventory, something that we can use to serve our community,” City of Sioux Fall utility administrator Ryan Johnson said.
Once again, the ordinances regarding the rate increases are up for a second reading and vote on June 20. If you’d like to see additional coverage about the increases, you can visit the city’s website.
Click here if you’d like to see the tour of the City of Sioux Falls Water Reclamation Plant.