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Rising water rates could drown businesses

DECATUR -- Business owners will be hit hard and forced to pay thousands more to the city, but some say it's better than the alternative.
DECATUR -- Business owners will be hit hard and forced to pay thousands more to the city, but some say it's better than the alternative. City officials are raising water rates over the next three years.

Leaders say it will pay for much-needed upgrades to the water system. WCIA-3's Ashley Michels shows us how the new cost is flowing with some business owners.

For Rainstorm Car Wash, water is its lifeline.

"It's the main ingredient of our business."

All those suds cost a lot of money each month.

"It's over $1,000."

A rate hike will make that even higher. Over the next three years, water prices will more than double.

"Every wash will cost a little extra, but Rainstorm says it would rather pay more for water than not have any customers at all."

"The alternative is like last year."

The extreme drought meant there wasn't enough water to go around. It forced Rainstorm to truck it in from other places.

"It was very tiring. Making money was not my objective at the time. It was just keep people working."

Dozens of other businesses weren't so lucky and had to close their doors. But, city leaders say higher rates will pay for upgrades and new wells to make sure none of that happens again. It's something Rainstorm owner, Dan Dougherty, says he's more than willing to work for.

"We're looking at how to reduce the water or to reuse some of the water to help offset costs."

A little bit of change now, to prevent more problems down the road.

"I think everybody wants the water when they turn on the faucet, so we all need to do our part."

City officials say upgrading the water system will also help bring new businesses to town. They've had to previously turn away some because they couldn't promise enough water.

The new rates take effect in June. Customers will pay 35% more the first year, 30% more the second year and 25% more in the third year. That means water bills will be more than double.
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