Small system, big rates

Published:

We certainly can understand the anger of residents of Farmdale subdivision in southern Franklin County. They face a possible increase in their sewer bills of 333 percent if the state Public Service Commission approves.

The rate increase is being requested by the owner of the private sewer system that serves the subdivision, Carroll Cogan of Farmdale Development Corp. Residents sewer bills would go from the current $19.05 a month to $63.51, with part of the increase a surcharge to cover new construction costs.

Public Service Commission records show Cogans company plans $247,300 in repairs and improvements to the sewer system.

It is up to the Public Service Commission to decide how much of Cogans request it will okay.

The problem facing Farmdale residents has two fundamental causes: Their subdivision is served by a small 246 customers treatment plant that is privately owned and operated, and the cost of maintaining and upgrading that small treatment plant must be spread among that same small number of customers.

Indeed, according to records at the state Division of Water, the Farmdale treatment plant has a better record of doing its job properly than many similar subdivision plants here and throughout the state. Too often, these private treatment plants are allowed to deteriorate to the point that they cause more pollution than if homes were connected to individual septic tanks.

That doesnt make it any less of a hardship on homeowners facing a more than three-fold increase in their monthly sewer bills. Certainly, that increase should be justification for the Public Service Commission to take a thorough look at the owners plans for improvements and to make sure those improvements in fact are carried out.

And the costly experience of the 246 customers of the Farmdale treatment plant is ample reason that every effort should be made to extend publicly owned and operated sewers into as much of the county as possible as soon as possible.

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