What do rising Shelby County water costs mean for Pelham?

The Pelham City Council is working to plan a yearly 7% increase in Shelby County water costs over the next five years, according to city officials. (File)

The Pelham City Council is working to plan a yearly 7% increase in Shelby County water costs over the next five years, according to city officials. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—On April 1, Shelby County increased the price of water by 7 percent, the first in a series of 7 percent increases scheduled to occur every year for five years.

This increase will directly impact Pelham, as the city currently purchases “on average around 30 percent” of its water supply from the county, with the remaining 70 percent coming from city wells, Pelham Director of Public Works Eddy Jowers said.

“Over a year we had budgeted $1.05 million (in Shelby County water costs) prior to the rate increase,” Jowers said, explaining the budget was approved in November and did not predict the 7 percent increase.

The water cost increase immediately impacted the remaining six months of this fiscal year, adding “between $35,000 and $40,000” in expenses, Jowers said. Next year that amount will rise to an additional $77,000, and the following year can expect to see an additional “$86,000 or $87,000” Jowers said.

Jowers noted these figures may end up higher as they do not account for the construction of additional homes.

“The more houses build, the more water bought and consumed,” Jowers said. “We have predicted 30 houses per year, but this year it’s been more.”

“It is a significant hit to our budget this year,” Pelham City Council President Rick Hayes said of the increased water expenses.

The Pelham City Council is currently working with Jowers and the Public Works Department to find ways to deal with the increase in Shelby County water costs. Hayes noted there is no “simple” solution, such as raising water fees for Pelham residents, and the Council is working to create a long-term plan to deal with rising Shelby County water costs.