Hearing Set on Water Works Change

Many Cincinnati residents got a glossy flyer in the mail this week informing them of a public meeting about a possible change in their water service.

City officials will hold a hearing July 28 to solicit public input about a proposal to switch the Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) from a city-managed department into a public regional water district.—-

Supporters of the change say it would allow the system to expand beyond the city's borders and serve more customers, which they believe will lower rates for all customers.

“A water district will keep rates low by spreading operating costs over a larger customer base,” said City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. in a prepared statement. “In fact, if GCWW had not expanded to serve seven additional communities over the past 15 years, water rates would be 20 percent higher.”

Opponents counter that a regional water district will make system managers less accountable to customers. Also, they question why — if the system already has expanded to serve non-Cincinnati customers — it can't continue to do so under the current structure and add a surcharge to help cover operating expenses.

The NAACP's local chapter is among the opponents to creating a regional water district.

The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. July 28 at the Cintas Center at Xavier University, in Evanston.

In November 2009, voters approved a charter amendment placed on the ballot by the NAACP and other groups that requires a vote before transferring the GCWW to a regional district.

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works is the main water supplier for about 235,000 homes and businesses in the region.

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