Baldwin water to switch to 'ready-to-serve' model

BALDWIN — Beginning Sunday, May 10, the village of Baldwin will transition to a ready-to-serve fee model for its water system.

This means payment for water service will be based on individual water use instead of the flat fee which is currently in place. The switch-over will only affect those who use Baldwin water, which includes those in the village and a small number of homes in Pleasant Plains Township.

This switch has been in planning for some time, explained Baldwin President Len Todd. The key reason for this change is the costs of providing water for houses with their water turned off. A large amount of the village's water budget was being spent on properties which were contributing nothing to the water system.

"When I came on board last year, we could see the water system was going broke," Todd explained. "The overspending had eliminated the rainy day fund we had for our water. We just weren't charging enough because when people turn their water off, they aren't paying into the water budget, despite there still being fixed costs for things like metering and the original costs of installing the tap. This new model is the only way we could dig ourselves out of this whole mess."

Most residents will see their bills decrease with this new system. Todd said the only people who will see rates increase are those who have their water turned off (because they were paying nothing before) and those who use excessive amounts of water far beyond the needs of any normal resident or business.

"The people who were using the water were subsidizing the costs of those who weren't," said Todd. "Plus, people who were using 40,000 gallons a year were paying the same amount as those using 5,600 gallons a year. This new system will conserve water, be more fair to those who use less water and ensure everyone is paying their fair share."

The ready-to-serve model also will help the village track where its water is going which assists with conservation, water safety and may eventually lead to lower prices.

The fee structure is planned to be $.45 per every thousand gallons used plus the base fee of $24.72 for operating costs each month.

The main concern going forward is any vacant properties whose owners will still not pay into the village water budget despite it now being required by law. Todd said some legal action may need to be taken, but hopes it will be unnecessary.

It will not affect the reopening GEO prison, as the facility uses a different water system, despite negotiations to share a sewage system.

All that remains now is for the fee structure to be approved by the Baldwin Village Council and for a handful of meters in the community to be inspected and repaired. The ordinances themselves will be published in a future edition of The Lake County Star.